(photo credit: KKL)
Reports on Sunday afternoon brought fresh breezes of optimism to Mount Carmel, as no major fire sites now remain in the north. Small areas, however, are still burning, and the firefighters, with KKL-JNF teams among them, are dealing with them as we write (Sunday morning). Thirty-five firefighting planes, led by the American Supertanker, are still flying over the areas that continue to burn.Yisrael Tauber
The public, both in Israel and throughout the world, has already launched a spontaneous initiative to rehabilitate the Carmel Forests, and people have begun to donate funds for both future planting and for the extensive restoration work that will be necessary before planting can start. But, much as we all long to see the Carmel turn green and fertile again as quickly as possible, KKL-JNF is approaching the rehabilitation work with caution, and we shall all have to be patient and allow nature to take its course as, with the help of KKL-JNF, it begins to heal and revive.
, Director of KKL-JNF’s Afforestation Department, explains that it is the organization’s policy not to rush to replant the burned areas. “During the first year there will quite definitely be no planting in the extensive areas that have been burned,” he emphasizes. “Planting will take place in those areas that are used mainly for recreation – around picnic spots or tourist sites, for example – so that the public will get at least some of the landscape back in a few years’ time, rather than in another 50 years, as would be the case if we waited solely for nature to take its course.”
Tauber says that rehabilitation will be assisted in a number of important ways:
: As no vegetation will be present to stem the flow of water, KKL-JNF will use a variety of methods to prevent erosion in the burned woodlands – for example, by piling scorched tree stumps and branches along contour lines.
2.Infrastructure restoration and clearing of debris
: All the following have to
be removed: damaged trees that present a danger; burned equipment from recreation areas; and fallen trees mown down by the bulldozers that cleared paths and created firebreaks to prevent the flames from spreading, etc.
3.Future fire prevention
: Firebreaks must be created to prevent the spread of future fires, and, even more importantly, woodland must be thinned and burned vegetation removed.
4.Care of the naturally regenerating woodland
: The forest will indeed regenerate, but it will do so in unnecessary profusion. This means that it will need to be thinned and shaped into a beautiful forest suitable for recreational purposes and beneficial to the environment. If this work is not done, the trees will stifle one another and will not grow up healthy. This activity will continue for years, until the trees reach a certain specified height.
The continuing dryness prevailing in Israel at present was one of the reasons for the tremendously swift spread of the fire and the huge damage it has caused. Many people throughout the country are praying for rain, which this year has been late in making its appearance. In fact, rain is expected to begin late Sunday night. Experts, however, say that if heavy rain were to fall on Mount Carmel at this stage, it would cause damage to the woodland’s fauna and flora. This is because, although the earth appears scorched, it still contains “banks” of undamaged seeds, together with organic material vital to the regeneration of the ground. If this material is swept away by rain before the restoration process gets underway, the damage will be even greater than at present. This is why KKL-JNF experts are preparing to carry out extensive tests in the woodland before embarking on its rehabilitation.