In honor of Tu Bishvat, new tree bill submitted to Knesset

MK Alon Tal: "Time to plant a new law – the best birthday present we can give the country’s forests and those that will yet be planted."

Palm trees grow at an R&D station in Israel's Arava region (photo credit: JNF USA)
Palm trees grow at an R&D station in Israel's Arava region
(photo credit: JNF USA)

In honor of the Tu Bishvat holiday on Monday, MK Alon Tal will present what he billed as the first comprehensive forestry law proposed in Israel for a century.

Tal said the present statute regulating tree planting and forestry in Israel is the 1926 “Forests Ordinance” from the British Mandate, which is similar to a 1921 version, adopted soon after the British conquered Palestine from the Ottoman armies in World War I.

Since that time, modifications and amendments of the Ordinance have been modest.

The bill is an expanded version of a statute prepared some 10 years ago, when Tal chaired the committee that oversees forestry for the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund international board that was never advanced.

The expanded version was submitted after several months of consultation with forestry experts at KKL-JNF and the Agriculture Ministry, which is responsible for forestry in Israel.

Given the significance of Israel’s trees and forests to human health, recreation, ecological corridors, species preservation and climate change, Tal declared it high time that Israel adopt legislation appropriate for the national and global challenges of the 21st century.

“After 100 years, it is time to let the old British Ordinance – which served us well for a century – retire honorably to ‘assisted living’ and enact a modern, effective, innovative statute,” Tal said.

“Israel has significant pressing challenges that the new proposed law will be able to address,” he said. “These include enhanced preservation of trees in the face of development, prevention of forest fires, democratization of the forestry planning process, professionalization of management decisions, increased public access to forests and empowerment of foresters to protect woodlands and enforce the law.”