Israel Lands Authority approves draft plan to preserve open spaces

The Israel Lands Authority council unanimously approved on Thursday a draft decision to make preserving open spaces an essential part of every land grant. The proposal was drafted by Yoav Sagi, head of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI)'s Open Landscape Institute (OLI). According to the addition to the Israel Lands Authority's governing laws, decisions will now include consideration of several elements as well as the promotion of preserving open spaces. In addition to considering the necessity of preservation and abiding by plans which include it, the authority will also expedite the allocation of land for nature reserves, national parks, forests and other areas which preserve the biodiversity and landscape as well as agricultural fields. The new decision also calls for increased enforcement against violators and illegal land use. Thursday's approval represents a major regulatory step forward in preserving Israel's rapidly dwindling open spaces. Conservationists have recently lost a string of battles across the country attempting to prevent the approval of more settlements and tourist initiatives in sensitive environmental areas.