L-R: Yishai Haramati, Judith Perl-Strasser, Armand Rudolf von Rohr, and Elisha Mizrahi in the Negev.
(photo credit: YOAV DEVIR KKL-JNF)
MIDBAR-the Swiss Society for the Revival of Desert Areas embarks on a tour of the Negev with KKL-JNF to learn how the organization combats desertification in Israel.
Combating desertification is one of the central values KKL-JNF has championed under its banner. Friends the world over aid KKL-JNF in combating desertification, and one of the most prominent among them is MIDBAR - the Swiss Society for the Revival of Desert Areas.Over the past several years, MIDBAR has supported several projects including planting a grove of trees in the green belt surrounding Beersheba, plantings in the Duda’im Forest and soil conservation and tree plantings along the Karkur Stream.
“When I see the trees grow here in the middle of the desert, I draw strength from them”, said Armand Rudolf von Rohr, CEO of MIDBAR, during a study tour of the Negev with KKL-JNF. “I believe that trees are the natural solution to global warming.”
MIDBAR’s contribution enabled planting a 120 dunam (30 acres) forest with a diverse mix of tree species: carobs, terebinths, olives, tamarisks, acacias and others.
Over the years, KKL-JNF foresters have developed expertise in planting trees in arid desert areas. Gil Siaki, head of KKL-JNF Forest Information Systems, explained how the system works: “We use ancient methods developed by the Nabateans, past residents of the Negev. We prepare limans
, raised berms and small dams that trap and redirect flood waters and also prevent soil erosion.
Nylon mulch sheets prevent the loss of water through seepage and block the emergence of unwanted herbaceous growth. Plastic tree sleeves protect young tree trunks from wildlife damage. During the trees’ first years after planting, they are regularly irrigated. After they become well established, they are weaned from irrigation and continue to survive under natural conditions.
"Raising trees is like raising children," said a smiling Itzik Amsalem, forester of the Metar Forest Management District. "It’s not easy to grow a forest in desert areas, but the secret of success is proper treatment, perseverance and, of course, a lot of love."Read more, see photos of the MIDBAR study tour on growing trees in the Negev