Study scholarships from the Appleby Fund for "Foresters of the Future"

The Hebrew University's Faculty of Agriculture was happy to join forces with KKL-JNF to get this unique project off the ground.

appleby 224-88 (photo credit:)
appleby 224-88
(photo credit: )
Global warming? Desertification? These concepts are familiar, and have been recognized throughout the world for years, but until MA forestry student Asaf Zur decided to discover the best method for locating which tree seeds are most suitable to arid conditions, no one considered it a matter of urgency to find solutions to these specific challenges. Last week Asaf Zur, together with 16 other students at the Hebrew University's Faculty of Agriculture in Rehovot - proudly, but with slight embarrassment - attended a modest ceremony at which they were presented with scholarships for a special program for the study of forestry, open-area management and sustainable development. The project was initiated by Mr. Ronald Appleby, one of Canada's main supporters of the activities of KKL-JNF and the Hebrew University. The academic program for BA and MA students was created out of a genuine need on the part of the State of Israel - whose first generation of foresters in now aging - which needs to teach a new team of young professionals to follow in their footsteps as soon as possible. This unique forestry study program has been underway for the past three years and combines academic study with extensive field work in all areas of forestry, open-area conservation and sustainable development. During the summer vacations, too, when the students engage in practical work in their various areas of study, the Appleby Fund pays the wages of 15 of the students taking part in the project. The Hebrew University's Faculty of Agriculture was happy to join forces with KKL-JNF - the foremost "client" for the services of graduates of the program - to get this unique project off the ground, and the faculty staff formulated a special academic and practical curriculum with certain points of cooperation with KKL-JNF institutions. Two years ago, during the Second Lebanese War, students enrolled in the program participated in the emergency efforts to extinguish forest fires and brush fires in the Galilee and learned many academic lessons from this unscheduled activity. Professor Eli Feinerman, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, told the scholarship recipients in his congratulatory speech that modern agriculture exerts great influences on the environment, both positive and negative. Present day agricultural research in Israel focuses on the grave issue of swift urban development and its effect on open spaces, parks, woodlands and rivers: "Research conducted in the context of this forestry program is designed to train professionals who will help the institutions that work in this area - with KKL-JNF foremost among them - to adapt practical activity in the field to the needs of science. The sixteen students enrolled in the program at present will increase this pool of young scientists whose training has been facilitated by Ronald Appleby's donation. I would like to thank Ron Appleby and his family for funding these scholarships and to thank KKL-JNF for its extremely valuable professional support." Dr Nir Atzmon of the Volcani Institute explained the main points of the special Young Foresters' Program: "In each of the coming ten years we expect five graduates of the program to be hired for forestry posts at KKL-JNF, and these youngsters will create a firm foundation for forestry activities in the years to come." Carmi Gilon, Vice President of External Relations at the Hebrew University expressed his congratulations on the university's behalf, while Ronald Appleby declared his confidence in the young students who had received the scholarships, among whom he felt very much at home: "I have complete faith in Israel's future, because the State is in your hands. We in Canada believe that every person and every tree is of great importance, and for this reason I consider the academic and practical cooperation embodied in this project as vital. I am proud of my part in it, and shall do everything I can to ensure that it continues for a long time". But the real news at the ceremony was conveyed by MA student Asaf Zur, who presented the research he is conducting in conjunction with fellow scientists at the Faculty of Agriculture on a "hot" topic: Creating a Swift Classification Method for the Identification of Varieties of Brutia Pine Resistant to Arid Conditions. "Global warming," he said, "is liable to damage different varieties of woodland trees so it is necessary to locate varieties that are more resistant to arid conditions, water scarcity and high temperatures." Since no similar method is currently in operation anywhere in the world, and as no research has as yet been carried out on the subject, Asaf Zur and his fellow researchers had to develop a method of determining young sprouts' degree of resistance to aridity. Seeds collected from various sources - from different habitats in Israel and the Mediterranean Basin - were examined. The researchers place them in artificially induced conditions of water distress and heat and monitor the plants' reaction to graduated changes in these conditions. The researchers have already developed exceptionally sensitive methods of measurement, which will allow the research to culminate in the isolation of seeds sturdy enough to cope with desert conditions, which will grow into the forests of the future and constitute a vital front line in the never-ending battle against desertification. KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler congratulated the scholarship recipients on behalf on the organization. He told those present that the collaboration between the Hebrew University's Faculty of Agriculture, KKL-JNF and donor Ronald Appleby had already been publicized worldwide and that many people were eagerly awaiting completion of the basic research projects underway in the context of the program. The students chose to appoint Asaf Zur to express thanks on behalf of all the scholarship recipients, perhaps because his personal story was representative of their own: "At first I regarded the program as an interesting way to spend a summer doing field work. But once I was out there meeting KKL-JNF personnel I began to delve more deeply and as my personal involvement grew I began to understand how extensive subject forestry is. To a certain extent, the program drew me in. Now, in my third year, the program can be said to have proved itself, and many people want to enroll in it. I wish to thank all those who have made the project possible; we are all proud to be part of it." For more information, please visit our website at www.kkl.org.il/eng or e-mail ahuvab@kkl.org.il Sponsored content