(photo credit: KKL)
The 2011 conference of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), the organization responsible for everything related to the earth's forests, recently concluded, and the KKL-JNF delegation to the conference returned to Israel with a sense of having achieved its goals and more. The overall theme of this year's conference, which was just completed, was "Forests for People", and 2011 was declared "International Forests Year". All the countries of the world are represented at the forum. Round Table
This was the first time that KKL-JNF decided to send a delegation to the conference, which joined Israel's permanent mission to the United Nations. The KKL-JNF delegation included Mr. Moshe Shaler, KKL-JNF Director of Community Forests; Mr. Israel Tauber, KKL-JNF Director of Forest Management, Monitoring and GIS; and Mr. Aviram Zuk, supervisor of KKL-JNF Upper Galilee and Golan Heights Forests. KKL-JNF's presence at the conference was very well received, and in retrospect was extremely important and successful. A representative of the Israeli delegation was elected to head the UNFF group of Western European and North American countries, an important position that provides KKL-JNF with an opportunity for meaningful future collaborations.
The following is a short summary of some of the main events that KKL-JNF was partner to.
KKL-JNF Side Event
Approximately forty people from many and varied countries, including Nepal, the USA, Nigeria, Egypt, Turkey, Switzerland, New Zealand, Jordan, Cyprus and South Africa, among others, participated in KKL-JNF's side event. The event was very successful and dynamic, and a very lively and interesting discussion developed.
The Israel Ambassador to the UN Meron Reuben, opend the event complimenting KKL-JNF's Forestry project in Israel.
Israel Tauber, introduced KKL-JNF and the speakers to the audience and spoke on forestry in Israel, focusing on the transition from first generation planted forests to sustainable multi functional forests, past achievements and the challenges Israel faces in the future. He was followed by Moshe Shaler, who spoke on community forestry, which is one of the main topics of the conference, and how it is possible to preserve the forest and ecosystem while enhancing community welfare. The concluding lecture at the KKL-JNF side event was presented by Aviram Zuck, who spoke about the Hula Lake project and ecotourism in general as a means to enhance livelihoods and revenues for rural communities. All the lectures were accompanied by short movies.
In the discussions after the lectures, participants expressed their amazement at Israel's achievements and how they were relevant for their respective countries. For example, the Nigerian representative was interested in how KKL-JNF's success in afforestation in arid regions could be implemented in his country. The Swiss representative invited KKL-JNF to participate in a forestry conference that will take place in Switzerland in July. The Turkish representative said that due to decreasing rainfall, entire forests in Turkey are dieing, and he suggested cooperating with KKL-JNF on finding solutions to this problem.
At the Round Table, senior representatives from all over the world, many of them ministers of agriculture, forestry and the environment, present a declaration to the United Nations plenary session. The Israeli declaration was presented by KKL-JNF's Israel Tauber, who described KKL-JNF's afforestation principles and expressed Israel's readiness for international collaboration on promoting sustainable forests and sharing KKL-JNF's expertise with other countries. The declaration was accompanied by a movie showcasing KKL-JNF's achievements. This was a very moving moment for the entire Israeli delegation.
Click here to read the KKL-JNF declaration
United States Forestry Service Reception
The KKL-JNF delegation participated at a reception hosted by the United States Forest Service and the New York Municipality launching a joint project whose goal is to plant a million trees in New York. New York is a model that everyone can learn from. At the event, the KKL-JNF delegation met Tom Tidwell, the USFS chief, who will be visiting Israel this spring.Reception at the Finnish UN Mission
The Israeli delegation was also invited to participate at the launching of the multi-year plan for Finland's forests and for cooperation with African countries in promoting sustainable forests.Reception Hosted by the Turkish Mission to the UN
Turkey hosted both a side event and also a reception at the conference, in the
presence of the Turkish minister of forestry and other senior Turkish representatives. The KKL-JNF delegation was personally invited to participate at the reception. This was very significant, since the Forum decided to hold its next conference, which will take place in 2013, in Istanbul.KKL-JNF Participation in Plenary Sessions
The KKL-JNF delegation was a major participant in discussions on the wording of policy statements and proposed an addendum to one of them. In general, there is a difference in the approach of developing countries and developed countries towards environmental issues, which made reaching agreements difficult, but at the end of the day, the documents were approved.Informal Meetings
One of the most important facets of international conferences is the informal meetings that take place on the sidelines of the event. For example, during the course of the conference, members of the Israeli delegation met with the representative of the Japanese delegation for a conversation on a Japanese project similar to the Hula Lake project. There were also important meetings with European representatives and representatives from Sweden, Nepal, Nicaragua and the USA.
The KKL-JNF delegation returned to Israel with a deep sense of satisfaction and the feeling that seeds were sown at the conference for future international collaborations. These contacts will enrich KKL-JNF and enable it to share Israel's environmental achievements with the international community, focusing on an aspect of Israel's reality often overlooked due to Middle East politics.
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