Fighting Fire with Fire

KKL-JNF carries out controlled burning in Biriya Forest in northern Israel

April 27, 2017 17:02
2 minute read.
Holocaust Remembrance Day Closing Ceremony at the Ghetto Fighters' House Museum

Holocaust Remembrance Day Closing Ceremony at the Ghetto Fighters' House Museum. (photo credit: KKL-JNF)

KKL-JNF foresters are constantly engaged in nurturing forests, caring for trees and fighting fires in order to keep Israel green and beautiful. As part of the organization’s preparations for the summer heat and the forest fires it brings, woodsmen in the north have been carrying out controlled burning in Biriya Forest to facilitate control of wildfires. Although this method appears contradictory, its objective is the same as always: to ensure the safety of the forest.


Dr. Omri Boneh, Director of KKL-JNF’s Northern Region, explained: “Controlled burning diminishes the quantity of flammable material in the forest, and thus reduces the danger of fire and slows the spread of the flames. In other words, we are fighting fire with fire.”


Biriya Forest, which extends over an area of around 21,000 dunam (approx. 5,250 acres), is the largest planted forest in the Galilee region. This varied stretch of woodland comprises orchards, lush vegetation, springs and historical and heritage sites. Although it is composed mainly of Jerusalem pine (Pinus halepensis), KKL-JNF has varied this composition by adding Calabrian pine (Pinus brutia), Canadian pine, Mediterranean cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica), Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica) and pistachio (Pistacia vera) to the mix.


The controlled burning was carried out along the firebreak created by KKL-JNF to divide the eastern part of the forest from the western part and provide access for firefighting vehicles in times of emergency. KKL-JNF foresters used flamethrowers to set fire to dry branches and vegetation that were cluttering the ground. The slope and the wind helped the flames to spread, under careful supervision and control. KKL-JNF firefighting teams were standing by at the site with two fire trucks at the ready in case the flames should spread beyond designated limits.   


Throughout the operation, Eli Hafuta, a KKL-JNF forester in the Biriya-Hazon area, accompanied the workers, showing them where to set fires, where to allow them to spread and when to lower the flames. “Fire is every forester’s nightmare, and so naturally it feels a bit strange to be setting fires inside the forest,” he said. “But we know that the controlled burning we carry out in springtime can save the forest from a huge conflagration in the summer.”



Read more and watch video on the controlled burning in Biriya Forest


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