50 Druse to partake in fire prevention seminar

Organized by Jewish National Fund, B’nai B’rith Int'l, 3-day seminar will be based at Nes Harim Field Center in Judean Hills.

December 27, 2011 03:18
2 minute read.
Burnt trees after the Carmel Fire

Burnt trees after the Carmel Fire 311 (R). (photo credit: Reuters)


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Fifty Druse teenagers from northern Israel villages will gather from Tuesday through Thursday to take part in a seminar on maintaining forest values and fire prevention.

Organized by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund and B’nai B’rith International, the three-day seminar will be based at the Nes Harim Field Center in the Judean Hills.

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The first day, however, will begin in the Carmel Forest, where the students will collect tree trimmings from wood that burned in last year’s fire.

Over the next two days, in addition to hearing lectures from local experts about forest maintenance and fire safety, the group members will take part in an independent forest navigation exercise and will also participate in a fire-extinguishing simulation in the Ben Shemen Forest.

“The whole idea of the seminar is to give them tools to make wise use of parks and forests and to be role models for their friends and to be active [facilitators] – kind of rangers,” Dr. Ben- Zion Bar-Lavie, director of education and ecology at JNF-KKL, told The Jerusalem Post.

Among the leaders who will address the youth during their seminar are local municipality mayors, MK Hamad Amar (Yisrael Beiteinu), former Knesset member for the National Religious Party and World Zionist Organization board member Yigal Bibi, and head of the Druse Zionist Council, Yussuf Nasser A-Din.

“We are working with all communities, all sectors,” Bar-Lavie said. “This is part of a whole overall program to empower young leadership.”

KKL-JNF plans to hold future such seminars among Beduin, secular Israeli and ultra-Orthodox students – secular Israeli teens already enjoyed a similar seminar during the Succot holiday, while Beduin youth will participate in one during Passover break, according to Bar-Lavie.

“This is the first time we have planned this kind of seminar in the Druse community,” he said, noting that the seminar is particularly prestigious, as the 50 selected students come from 11 Druse towns spread throughout the North.

The “trigger” for the seminar, according to Bar-Lavie, was last year’s Carmel fire that began near the Druse town of Usifiya, but the program’s goal is to give the youth leaders skills necessary to maintain the quality of forests. During the three days, the students will meet with foresters, as well as hear lectures about the power of animal grazing in fire prevention.

By encouraging animals to munch on herbs growing between tree roots, people can reduce fires by 50 percent, Bar-Lavie explained.

“All the fuel of the fire starts from the bottom of the forest,” he said.

Meanwhile, the students will also understand how to be wise consumers of the forest’s natural resources, while participating in barbecues and other recreational activities. Most importantly, however, the youth will learn how to “take active responsibility and be leaders of their own friends and communities,” Bar-Lavie added.

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