(photo credit: kkl)
Participants in the international conference on
controlling the eucalyptus gall wasp set out for a study tour of the
Negev conducted by KKL-JNF. The tour followed a day of lectures and
workshops about the project to eradicate the gall wasp, funded by JNF
the panorama of bare hills between Mishmar HaNegev Junction and Lahavim
Junction they reached the middle of Kramim Forest on the slopes of
Mount Hebron marveling at the pine forest on the hills and gardens of
nut, carob and fig trees that grew in the riverbeds.
"We can't believe our eyes," voiced the representatives from
South Africa, China, Brazil, Kenya, Italy, and Uganda. "What you have
succeeded in doing in the desert gives us a lot to think about
regarding utilization of areas that have been useless until now.
"The tour, which was part of the conference and workshop hosted
by KKL-JNF and the Vulcani Institute, was designed to demonstrate what
can be done in areas of modern agriculture and forestry on the edge of
the desert where average annual rainfall is less than 200 millimeters.
Under such conditions, using water efficiently is one of the most
Yitzhak Moshe, deputy director of KKL-JNF southern
region, met the group in Kramim Forest and demonstrated how erosion of
fertile soil in the riverbeds can be halted using relatively simple
techniques. Floodwaters are trapped in well-planned dams of reinforced
earth mounds, enabling the water to permeate the soil and provide the
trees planted in the riverbeds with amounts of water equal to 1000
millimeters or more of rainfall. Varieties of trees such as eucalyptus,
carob, or pistachio, fig, tamarisk, and poinciana can be grown in the
riverbeds, as well as other varieties that are naturally resistant to
difficult conditions. A pine forest has been planted on the slopes
above the riverbed that can successfully cope with the desert dryness.
Consistent planned thinning enables the trees to grow despite the
miniscule amounts of rain.
The guest scientists photographed every detail in the Kramim
Forest and the Yatir Forest, in an attempt to bring the huge contrast
between the forest and the surrounding desert back to their own
visit to the forest was preceded by a tour of the experimental section
of eucalyptus trees planted at the entrance to Moshav Timurim near
Kiryat Malachi. The guests had also been on a comprehensive tour of the
huge vegetable nursery belonging to the "Khistil" Company in Ashkelon;
the producers of honey at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, and the KKL-JNF
nursery in Gilat where saplings designated for planting in the arid
conditions of the Negev are cultivated. At Timurim the guests observed
common varieties of eucalyptus, all of which were severely infested
with the eucalyptus gall wasp - the subject of their conference. There
was a variety of eucalyptus trees here that had remained undamaged by
the gall wasp, and the question that arose was whether that particular
hybrid is resistant to the damage of the gall wasp.
"We can't draw conclusions from what you see here as to whether
or not this is a variety of eucalyptus that is resistant to the gall
wasp. We have already seen trees that have been growing for two or
three years that have no galls and in the fourth year they are covered
with them like the other varieties," explained the experts from the
Vulcani Institute and KKL-JNF.
When they visited the vegetable nursery of "Khistil" the guests
wondered why vegetables were grown in a nursery. The answer to their
question came in the form of a practical demonstration of the methods
of water conservation and increasing agricultural yield. "The nursery
provides plants of uniform quality in large quantities when the farmer
wants them and supplying the healthy plants saves almost a month of
germination in the field, saves irrigation water throughout the entire
period, and results in resistant plants that have the highest
absorption rate and significantly larger yields than those grown using
any other method.
"At Kibbutz Yad Mordecai the guests were amazed at the data
about the importance ofplanting eucalyptus trees for the honey
industry, the quality and quantity of the honey, and stability of the
bee colonies in the hives. At the Gilat Nursery they were greeted by
Ami Uliel, director of KKL-JNF southern area. The guests toured the
nursery and heard about the various varieties of saplings for planting
in the forests of the northern Negev, public gardens and parks in the
Full of incredible impressions of the day the participants returned for the concluding workshops of the conference.