Biological Control of Eucalyptus Gall Wasp Exploring Forests

After 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.

By KKL
March 3, 2010 13:19
3 minute read.
Saving-Eucalyptus1

Saving-Eucalyptus1. (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 Victoria, Australia.



After 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 important components.



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 countries.





The 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 Negev communities.

Full of incredible impressions of the day the participants returned for the concluding workshops of the conference.



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