(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
“We are very conscious of how hard Israel in general, and KKL-JNF in particular, has worked to make this country green. It is an example we would like to follow,” said the Mexican Ambassador to Israel, Mr. Federico Salas, at a special tree planting ceremony held at the Yad Kennedy VIP Planting Center to mark Mexico’s National Forestation Day. “We understand the significance of this project and we hope that in the future, we can work together to learn from your example and replicate some of what you have done in Mexico.”
Ambassador Salas mentioned that the Mexican government had officially noted the United Nations pronouncement of 2011 as the International Year of Forests, and had declared July 17 as national forestation day in Mexico. He said that some 100,000 Mexicans were expected to take part in 231 planting ceremonies across the country, and Mexican diplomatic missions around the world were also taking part by planting trees in their host countries.
“Planting trees in Mexico is very important, and we are also very happy to be planting all over the world. We want to raise public awareness of this issue and to imitate some of your miraculous achievements in Mexico.”
The ambassador arrived from Tel Aviv with some of his embassy staff, all of whom were greeted by Andy Michelson, KKL-JNF Chief of Protocol, Alejandra Kadden and Liri Eitan of the Latin American Desk. Mexican embassy staff at the ceremony included Military Attaché Gen. Eduardo Rodriguez and his wife Cristina, Administrative Coordinator Arlette Garcia, Political Attaché Gerardo Serrano and Press Coordinator Shelly Podlipsky.
“It is delightful to have you, your staff, and our additional guests here today on such a glorious morning,” said Michelson. “It is wonderful that Mexico has declared a national planting day, and it is fantastic that you are able to extend Mexico's borders by marking this day and planting a tree here in Israel. Since its inception in 1901, KKL-JNF has become a world expert in afforestation, and to date, as KKL-JNF celebrates its 110th anniversary, it has planted nearly 240 million trees, about 17,000 trees a week.
“We have worked hard to turn back the desert that has been gradually encroaching. As you drive around Israel, you can get a firsthand look at the work we do. We’ve become very good at planting trees with small amounts of water, knowledge that we export. We have agreements with the U.S. Forest Service in addition to working with the Australian government.”
"KKL-JNF is also very involved in water restoration," Michelson added. "We have built over 220 reservoirs for treated waste water and flood water. Through its work in recycling water, KKL-JNF has added about 10 percent to Israel’s water resources, and Israel's agriculture sector in Israel uses over 70% recycled water."
Before planting the carob sapling, Ambassador Salas read the Planter's Prayer in Spanish, and then his staff joined him in planting the tree.
As they walked to the planting site, Michelson explained that the special plastic protection put around the young saplings protects them from animals while also functioning as a hothouse of sorts, helping to concentrate the water on the tree’s roots. In addition, he noted, the material used was biodegradable.
Michelson also told the ambassador that the carob sapling he was about to plant was special, since its fruit-like beans are a well known replacement for chocolate. “It leaves something sweet in our mouth. We hope you can come to visit in the future and that you will enjoy the fruit of the tree you have planted,” Michelson said as the ambassador's staff took turns planting and watering the tree.
“I can only agree," Ambassador Salas replied. "I look forward to the tree growing and to tasting its fruit in the future,”
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