Tuesday, February 25: Ambassadors in Israel representing countries all over the world joined KKL-JNF for a fascinating day at Hula Lake Park (Agamon HaHula), Israel’s main birdwatching park and one of the most important ornithological sites worldwide.
“It’s important for us to include the international community in the various activities promoted by KKL-JNF,” said KKL-JNF Director of International Relations Karine Bolton at the start of the day’s events.
Manuel Gómez-Acebo, Spain’s ambassador to Israel, expressed confidence that a love of nature could bring together people from different parts of the world. “Birds have no passports, nor do they stop at borders,” he said. “We human beings could learn a great deal from them. Today’s get-together with representatives from different countries offers an opportunity for shared learning and cooperation.”
Northern Israel’s Hula Lake Park provides a unique model of sustainability for the successful integration of nature, agriculture and tourism. The park’s main attraction is the tens of thousands of cranes that visit the site during the migration season. There are currently around fifty thousand cranes at Lake Hula, and the delegates set out to tour the site in a mobile birdwatching hide that allows visitors to move around and observe the wildfowl at first hand without disturbing them.
“I arrived in Israel about six months ago, and it’s important to me to see as much of the country as I can,” said Ireland’s Ambassador to Israel Kyle O’Sullivan. “I’ve been greatly impressed by KKL-JNF’s environmental activities, and this was an opportunity to observe one of the organization’s projects. It’s touching to see how attached Israelis are to the land, nature and the environment.”
The visitors were escorted by Dr. Omri Boneh, the director of KKL-JNF’s Northern Region, who recounted the fascinating story of the lake and its environs. In the 1950s, KKL-JNF was asked by the Israeli government to drain the Hula swamps in order to gain additional land for farming. Years later, however, it became clear that drying the swamps had damaged both the local soil and the quality of the water in the Sea of Galilee, and KKL-JNF subsequently recreated a part of the lake and its surrounding wetlands by reflooding some of the area.
Today the lake attracts tens of thousands of nature-lovers and bird-watching enthusiasts, and serves as a tourism and economic anchor for local communities. KKL-JNF continues to develop the site with the support of its Friends throughout the world.