Erdan unveils eco-system rescue plan

Dozens of plants, animals have been wiped out.

May 13, 2010 08:29
2 minute read.

erdan ecosytem plan 311. (photo credit: Kobi Wolf)

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan unveiled the country’s national biodiversity protection plan at the Holon sand dunes on Wednesday, along with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI).

The plan calls for consideration of biodiversity in urban planning, a monitoring system, legislative changes – including financial incentives – to protect animal and plant species, public awareness campaigns and international cooperation.

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The UN has called 2010 the year of biodiversity in an attempt to raise awareness to the dwindling of species.

Israel’s plan, which was the product of a joint effort between government agencies, environmental groups and academia, attempts to convince the public of the importance of biodiversity for human existence.

Rather than crafting the argument as one to save nature or rare species – the “tree-hugger” argument, if you will – the plan’s summary stresses the role biodiversity plays in offering what are known as “environmental services.”

Environmental services are the essential tasks that nature provides for mankind’s existence – namely, food to eat, water to drink and air to breathe. Maintaining a healthy biodiversity – many species, as opposed to just one or two to provide each function – offers the public superior air quality, water quality and diverse edibles, according to the plan’s authors.

The “Land of Milk and Honey” is blessed with a surprisingly large number of different plant and animal species considering its small size. Its location on the crossroads between three continents (Europe, Asia and Africa), makes it a migratory path for thousands of birds, as well.

The biggest threat to biodiversity in Israel is urban expansion – building new cities in seemingly “open” areas, which then wipe out whole ecological systems or prevent the migration of species. Over the last 50 years or so, dozens of plants and animals have been wiped out due to development. Therefore, the plan calls for inclusion of biodiversity considerations in planning practices.

The authors also called for populating existing cities to the fullest rather than creating any new ones – a key position of SPNI, which has advocated it in a number of environmental planning battles over the last few years.

The plan will be discussed in detail at SPNI’s upcoming annual conference in Jerusalem on Monday. The conference, which will focus on biodiversity, is also sponsored by the ministry, the Nature and Parks Authority, the Jerusalem Municipality, and Tel Aviv University.

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