"Adopt an Acacia" Project Inaugurated in the Central Arava

Professor Amotz Zahavi, who initiated the project together with Ami Shacham, explained the rationale for "Adopt an Acacia": "Largely thanks to KKL-JNF, the Central Arava, which was thought to be practically uninhabitable, has been transformed into a region with a population of close to 3,000. Its agricultural produce is famous all over the world,

By KKL
January 25, 2010 16:24
4 minute read.
AdopAcacia

AdopAcacia. (photo credit: AdopAcacia)

 
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"Children, can you identify the flags flying here today? Whose flags are they?" Ezra Rabins, head of the Central Arava Regional Council, was speaking to pupils from the and the at the ceremony officially inaugurating the "Adopt an Acacia" project at the Yair Research and Development Station in the desert. The answer came from all directions: "KKL-JNF!" "KKL-JNF!"

Ezra Rabins smiled. "We who live in the Arava are like the acacia tree, with roots that go down deep into our earth. When, thanks to research carried out by Professor Amotz Zahavi and Ami Shacham, we realized that due to the development of the Arava, the acacia trees were in danger, we naturally turned to KKL-JNF, and the 'Adopt an Acacia' project was born. I would especially like to thank , which funded the project, and specifically Zoe Spiegel and Darren Smorgon, who made a generous contribution in honor of their marriage in 2009. And of course KKL-JNF's Shalom Norman, former KKL-JNF emissary to , who was responsible for the connection between the Arava and , and really made this happen."

Professor Amotz Zahavi, who initiated the project together with Ami Shacham, explained the rationale for "Adopt an Acacia": "Largely thanks to KKL-JNF, the Central Arava, which was thought to be practically uninhabitable, has been transformed into a region with a population of close to 3,000. Its agricultural produce is famous all over the world, boasting cutting edge innovations developed with the help of the Yair R&D Station. However, just as in the Galilee, where there was an ecological price to be paid for draining the Hula Valley, so too, here in the Arava, there is environmental damage as a result of human habitation. And just as KKL-JNF re-flooded parts of the in order to solve some of the problems that had arisen, here too, KKL-JNF is working together with us to find solutions. The acacia trees were drying out, because water that had previously been available for them was being harvested for agriculture before it reached the aquifer. Today, we are planting acacia trees near the villages and in other places where they had ceased to proliferate. The schoolchildren and farmers will make certain that the seedlings get enough water in their first couple years of growth, when their roots are still shallow. Thanks to KKL-JNF and the people of the Arava, the surroundings will once again be green and blossoming."

"Without the acacia tree, life is not sustainable in the Arava. Without education, there is no future for the Arava." Oded Keinan of the for Science, Technology and the Environment, said that acacia trees were the basis of the Arava's eco-system. "The Arava schoolchildren have accompanied this project since it was initiated and will continue to do so in the future. I would like to thank everyone who helped make the project a success, especially Itzik Moshe and the other KKL-JNF people, who were on board from the very first moment."

mi Uliel, head of KKL-JNF's Southern Division, read greetings especially sent to the ceremony by KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler: "Today's tree planting event is unique in KKL-JNF history. It is an educational and ecological breakthrough. Wood from acacia trees was used to construct the portable tabernacle the children of were commanded to make in the wilderness. Each acacia tree is like a miniature oasis, and every one that disappears adversely affects the ecosystem.

"The 'Adopt an Acacia' project makes it possible for the Arava to retain its environmental identity. KKL-JNF workers gathered seeds from the most resilient trees and sprouted them at our Gilat nursery, from where they were brought back to the Yair R&D station. With the help of the local schoolchildren and farmers, they are being planted around the villages and streambeds. In the future, we will install benches and explanatory signs next to some of the trees. This is truly the realization of the verse in Isaiah 41:19: "I will set in the Arava cypress, acacia, myrtle and olive trees."

Ami Uliel added that KKL-JNF Australia is KKL-JNF's number one partner in the Arava. He invited the guests to take part in the tree planting ceremony, including the IDF Border Patrol Unit that just the day before had rescued people who were trapped in floods caused by the extraordinary rains.  

As Maya and Rotem, two Arava schoolchildren, said: "We have no other home than the desert. We love the acacia tree, which, like us, knows how to survive in the burning desert sun. These trees will always be close to our hearts, because as long as they prosper and thrive, the Arava will always remain our home."      

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