Sustainable forest: visiting British Park

British Park is a model of sustainable development, which means emphasizing the social-ecological aspects of development and planning for coming generations.

January 10, 2010 17:56
Sustainable forest: visiting British Park

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British Park is a model of sustainable development, which means emphasizing the social-ecological aspects of development and planning. This is also one of the largest parks in the Judean Hills, where you will be able to find a variety of birds and animals, along with natural woodlands, fruit orchards, picnic areas, recreation, and sports installations. British Park, one of the largest parks in the Lower Judean Hills, is divided into four distinct geographical planning regions. The forested region is intended for the general public and includes picnic areas and recreation and sport installations. The core of the park is characterized by protected natural woodlands and fruit tree orchards. The third region includes fruit orchards, and the Luzit caves, which preserve ancient agricultural culture. The fourth region is Ramat Avishor, which is covered by fully developed natural woodlands. The development of this region was made possible thanks to a contribution by friends of KKL-JNF Great Britain, which is how the park received its name. The park includes a variety of habitats in which a number of different animal species find food and shelter. Larger mammals include Israeli deer, caracals and jackals. Smaller mammals include porcupines, rabbits, mice and rats. Dozens of species of birds also nest in the park. In its many caves and cisterns there are owls, jackdaws, rock doves and common kestrels; in the cultivated fields there are crested larks, and high up in the trees one finds the "snake eagle" that feeds on reptiles. Those gifted with a sharp sense of hearing will certainly enjoy the call of the cuckoos that usually lay their eggs in the nests of jaybirds, who raise their nestlings for them. In the soft chalk rock the common bee-eater, a gorgeous bird that preys on bees, digs its nest. KKL-JNF hung nesting boxes on the trees in order to attract a variety of forest birds that nest in tree trunks, such as the titmouse and the Syrian woodpecker. The following route, one of many available in the park, is the scenic route, from Mitzpe Masua to Tel Azaqa. This is a ten-kilometer route (suitable for all types of motor vehicles) with stops at various sites. Along the sign-posted road there are fascinating archaeological sites, scenic lookouts that provide a view of the park's untouched scenery, and hiding spots that enable visitors to observe a variety of wild animals. Short footpaths lead to enchanted hidden corners between the fruit orchards and the ancient agricultural terraces. We begin our visit at the Mitzpe Masua Observation Plaza, 372 meters above sea level, where we have an excellent view of the Coastal Plain, with the Judean Mountains to the east and the Coastal Plain to the west. Mitzpe Masua received its name from an inscription discovered at Tel Lachish: "We watch for the torches (masu'ot) of Lachish according to all the signs provided by our master, for we cannot see Azaqa." In ancient times, communication between villages was accomplished by means of torches, and for this purpose, high points like the scenic lookout were chosen. We continue northward from the observation tower to Bell Cave, near Hurvat Aqaba. The many caves dug out of the rocks served various purposes: the excavated material was used for building and the coolness of the caves was utilized for agriculture and storage, such as shelter for herds and wine or oil presses. In one of the caves, there is a lower stone from an ancient oil press that produced olive oil. This oil press was built 1,500 years ago, during the Byzantine period. Over time, the cave workshops were abandoned, and various wild animals found shelter in the caves. From here we continue to Aqaba Scenic Lookout, which has two observation balconies, one of which looks out to the park's western slopes and the Lower Coastal Plain. The Mediterranean Sea is visible on the horizon. At the foot of the scenic lookout, nestled between the hills, we see Kibbutz Beit Nir, Moshav Luzit and the Luzit Caves region. From the second balcony, anyone with patience and binoculars can watch the impressive flight patterns of the eagles, which nest in this region during spring and summer. Pay attention to the tree trunks, where nesting boxes that attract forest birds such as the titmouse and the Syrian woodpecker are hung. Before continuing, we recommend taking a break in the shade of the trees at the nearby Serigim recreation area while the children enjoy the playground equipment. The site includes water faucets and picnic tables. From here we go back to the road and continue to the Haruv hiding spot in an area characterized by carob trees and terebinths. This scenic unit is home to many and varied wild animals. The hiding spot was built in the shade of a carob tree, from which it is possible to observe animals under a cloak of invisibility. Opposite the hiding spot, at the bottom of the streambed, there is a water pool that is the only water source in the entire region. Be careful to move very slowly and be as quiet as possible when you arrive at this spot. With a little bit of luck, you will see birds, deer or jackals coming to get a drink. From here we continue through a small valley in which ancient olive trees are planted. The trees are hundreds of years old. They can be reached by walking on an agricultural path that goes from Ajur southward. We then continue to the Luzit Scenic Lookout. From the observation balcony we can see how Ajur farmers built separation walls between the land parcels. To the north, we see the landscapes of the Coastal Plain, the city of Ashdod, the ancient site of Tel Zufit, Nahal Ha'elah and Moshav Agur. We conclude at Tel Azaqa, where we find the remains of the ancient village of Azaqa, which is mentioned in the wars Joshua fought during the conquest of the Land of Israel. The names of Samson, David and Jeroboam are connected to this region. The Philistines, led by Goliath, camped at the foot of this hill. This is where David defeated the Philistines, and paved his way towards becoming king of Israel. The Elah Valley spreads out at the foot of the hill. Philistines, Romans and Moslems chose to ascend to the mountains through this valley when they wanted to conquer Jerusalem. For more information, please visit our website at or e-mail Sponsored content

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