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Photo by: Dov Greenblatt/SPNI
Palmahim Air Force soldiers take to biking
By SHARON UDASIN
12/23/2012
Soldiers will now be able to appreciate their environment even more after a new program brings them 40 bicycles.
 
Situated in a rare sand dune ecosystem as they perform their military duties, the soldiers of the Palmahim Air Force base will now be able to appreciate their environment even more after a new program brought them 40 bicycles.

The program, called Palmahim Riders, aims to encourage the recognition and preservation of values of nature already occurring at the base, and was initiated jointly by the Society for the Protection of Nature (SPNI) and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA), with financing from the Hoopoe Foundation – a conservation fund begun by SPNI and Tel Aviv University.

In addition to receiving the 40 bicycles, the soldiers have gained dozens of kilometers of marked riding paths nearby their base.

The coastal dunes make up a “rare and unique ecosystem, rich in many natural treasures, animals and plants,” according to SPNI.

Two invasive species – Golden aster weeds and Acacia saligna trees – have been threatening to destroy the area. Soldiers and their commanders have therefore been working tirelessly to uproot the weeds, which have ended up spanning hundreds of dunams. In addition to these activities, the soldiers participate in various educational seminars at the base that increase their affinity to nature and heritage.

For all of these efforts, the base won a biodiversity award at SPNI’s Jerusalem Conference in October.

“The Palmahim Riders initiative, which is led by the School for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, directly connects the base’s soldiers to the environment in which they find themselves, while maintaining fitness and valuing the preservation of nature,” a statement from SPNI said.
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