A 2,000-year-old Jujube tree ("Ziziphus spina-christi" or "Sheizaf" in Hebrew) located in Ein Hatseva, near the Dead Sea.
(photo credit: ISRAEL GALON/AGRICULTURE MINISTRY)
In honor of Tu Bishvat, the Agriculture Ministry launched its Tree Heritage website and smartphone application on Sunday.
They are part of an online project to identify and tell the stories behind thousands of trees around the country with a unique connection to Israeli and Jewish history and culture.
With 1,457 trees currently in the system, anyone in the Hebrew-speaking public can browse an online map and learn about the unique trees around the country or even around the corner.
The Tree Heritage map pinpoints the locations of different, significant trees around Israel and highlights trees that are especially old or historically important in either Judaism, Christianity or Islam.
On the map, viewable on the ministry’s website, each tree is identified by a name and includes information such as the trees’ exact locations, ages, classification types, dimensions, photos and sometimes a special story about the tree.
The oldest tree in the system is a 2,000-year-old jujube tree ( “Ziziphus spina-christi” “sheizaf” in Hebrew) in Ein Hatseva, near the Dead Sea.
Haggai Snir, who oversees forestry at the ministry said that in Israel, every tree has a story.
“If only one knows how to understand a tree’s story, it can ‘tell’ the history of everything that happened around it,” he said.
Although all members of the public are able to browse the app, only certain users are currently eligible to help identify trees, such as groups or classes from schools or environmental institutions. However, the ministry said that eventually all will be able to contribute. Those interested in receiving access to the system may request a username and password by sending an email to email@example.com.
The map and related websites are currently only available in Hebrew and there are no plans yet to translate it into other languages.
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel praised the site for being a way for the public to connect and even visit the large number of trees that help tell stories that connect them to their heritage.