KKL-JNF Hosts an International R&D Course

The course, which has been a fixture for the past decade, is held in conjunction with a number of bodies

June 28, 2010 16:21

KKL. (photo credit: KKL-JNF)

KKL-JNF Hosts an International R&D Course
Integrated Pest Management of Fruit and Forest Trees

Twenty-five representatives from fourteen countries are taking part in an international course on integrated pest control in fruit and forest trees. Participants include delegates from China, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal, Jordan, Turkey, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Serbia, Nigeria, the Solomon Islands and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The course, which has been a fixture for the past decade, is held in conjunction with a number of bodies, including the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV); the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Center for International Agricultural Development Cooperation (CINADCO); the Volcani Institute; and KKL-JNF. The participants will be spending several weeks in Israel, and will thus have the opportunity to observe KKL-JNF’s management of forests and open spaces, with special reference to its methods of pest and pathogen control among woodland trees. In the context of the course, KKL-JNF has organized a number of tours of central, northern and southern Israel, to enable the participants to observe forestry activities in the field, with KKL-JNF professionals as their guides.

KKL-JNF Chief Forester David Brand explained: “We consider information sharing very important. We have accumulated a great deal of experience and advanced knowledge, which we want to disseminate and share with other countries. With this aim in view, we engage in collaborative activities throughout the world.”

The areas of KKL-JNF activity presented to the course participants included: forestry in arid regions; forest rehabilitation after fire; open-space management; catchment-basin management; forest-tree eugenics and biological pest control. 

In northern Israel’s Biriya Forest, the visitors heard how woodland could be rehabilitated after fire; in the center of the country, in Eshtaol Forest, they learned how to deal with forest pests; and in Yatir Forest in the south, they observed woodland care in an arid environment. At the Yair Research and Development Station in the Arava they were introduced to relevant innovative agricultural developments and applied research. The course also included a lecture on the early detection and quenching of forest fires.

We joined the course participants on their visit to KKL-JNF’s Gilat nursery, where we heard Pablo Chercasky, the nursery manager, talk about growing forest trees for planting in parks and woodland and the production of garden plants for landscaping public areas. Some 600,000 saplings are grown at the nursery every year, comprising 80 species of woodland plants and 150 species of garden plants that require little water. The nursery covers an area of 200 dunam (approx 50 acres), including 40 dunam of acclimation plots in which over 1,000 newly-introduced species are grown. Another fifty-dunam plot is devoted to olive trees and date palms, which will eventually be moved and replanted as part of special projects.

The visitors were able to observe the reproduction processes at first hand, from seed collection to planting and the new plant’s establishment in the soil. The seeds were gathered from quality-selected trees and bushes from the nursery and its environs. Some seeds are treated by being refrigerated and soaked in water or acid to increase their germination capacity. They are then planted in seed trays and placed in a special room where temperature and humidity are computer controlled. Later, the seedlings are taken to a greenhouse, where they remain until germination is complete. The cuttings are rooted on heated rooting tables. Root development continues for several weeks, the precise number depending on the variety of plant.  

The rooted cuttings and seedlings are transferred to growth containers, which are placed on a raised pallet in an area shaded by a net. Raising the containers off the ground causes the roots to dry and protrude, creating an extensive root network. The saplings are watered by sprinklers and drip irrigation, which are also used to deliver fertilizer.

Six to ten months generally elapse from the start of the reproduction process until the sapling is sent for planting in its permanent location. Trees that started life as saplings grown at the nursery now occupy a combined area of 300,000 dunam of forest throughout the Negev.

The visitors concluded their visit to the nursery in a meeting with Elisha Mizrahi, Director of KKL-JNF’s Northern and Western Negev regions, who had come directly from dealing with a forest fire that had broken out several kilometers to the north. This gave his guests the opportunity to hear at first hand how such fires are dealt with – a vital aspect of forest conservation, especially during the hot Israeli summer.

Mizrahi showed them a forest planted by KKL-JNF in the arid conditions of the Negev, north west of Beersheba. Runoff water, flood regulation and artificial infiltration are all used to enrich the ground and allow green islands of trees and grass to be nurtured. Plastic sheets are placed under the young saplings, to conserve moisture. The roots penetrate beneath these sheets, and tests conducted by KKL-JNF showed that they reach a depth of up to twelve meters in their search for water. The saplings are watered for two years, then, once they mature and are able to fend for themselves, irrigation ceases.

“Planting helps to reduce flooding and soil erosion, thereby minimizing desertification and the consequent damage to agriculture,” Mizrahi explained. He also told his guests that, although pines and eucalyptus trees were the popular choice for woodland planting in the past, KKL-JNF now prefers to use local species.
On our visit to the nursery we spoke to some of those taking part in the course, and listened to their impressions:

Nigerian agronomist Makinde Tayo told us, “We’re learning a lot of new things on this course, and I’m sure that I’ll be able to apply some of them in Nigeria. I was impressed by KKL-JNF’s serious work, and I’ve no doubt we could learn a lot from it.”

Alician Kurtulus, a research assistant from Turkey, said: “Even though relations between our two countries are strained at present, I hope that we’ll be able to promote cooperation on a variety of environmental issues. In some areas we are facing similar problems, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t work together.”

Khaled Almanaseer, a forestry engineer from Jordan: “KKL-JNF’s professional activities are very impressive. As neighbors, we can derive great mutual benefit if we cooperate on issues concerning forestry, water management and open-space management.”

Serbian agronomist Dr. Goran Delibasic told us: “The course is interesting and very important. I was particularly interested in KKL-JNF’s forestry and water-related activities.”

Kazbek Toleubayer, from Kazakhstan’s plant protection center:  “I arrived in Israel expecting to see a dry and desolate country, and was surprised to find instead a green and flourishing one. It’s amazing how KKL-JNF has managed within just a few decades to turn derelict areas into green forest. In Kazakhstan we’re having trouble conserving the forests we’ve already got, and we, of course, are operating in much easier climate conditions. I found the control of forest pests to be a particularly interesting part of the course.”

Dejana Tesanovie, from the Bosnia-Herzegovina Ministry of Agriculture: “You’re doing a lot of things here that we could apply back home. Perhaps, with your help, we can advance our agriculture, for example by dealing properly with pest control and the use of greenhouses.”

For Articles, comments or use please contact
 Ahuva Bar-Lev
KKL-JNF – Information and Publications
Email: ahuvab@kkl.org.il
 Phone: 972-2-6583354 Fax:972-2-6583493

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