JNF goes native - with carobs and oaks

Jewish National Fund plants trees native to the Land of Israel as part of annual Tu Bishvat activities.

almond tree 88 (photo credit: )
almond tree 88
(photo credit: )
The Jewish National Fund will plant trees native to the Land of Israel as part of the annual Tu Bishvat tree-planting activities conducted throughout the country. Rather than the pine forests planted by schoolchildren, tourists and Jewish communities from around the world in previous years, the coming week will see many tens of thousands of carob trees planted in the southern desert, terebinth on the limestone foothills along the coastal plain, and oak trees on the hills of the Galilee and Carmel regions and on the rocky Golan plateau. In addition, in the wake of the massive damage to many forests in the Galilee - the JNF believes one million trees were destroyed and another one million were too badly damaged to recover - Education Ministry Dir.-Gen. Shmuel Abuav and JNF chairman Effi Stentzler agreed last week to a steady increase in the number of trees planted by schoolchildren each Tu Bishvat. This year, an estimated 250,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade will plant some 100,000 trees. In order to encourage planting by schools and communities, the JNF has agreed to waive the NIS 6 cost per tree that it usually charges schools and local governments. While a sizeable portion of the planting will take place in the North to replenish forests devastated by fires triggered by rocket attacks during last summer's war, the estimated 200 million trees currently growing in Israel's forests will be augmented by saplings planted in the Negev, the Judean hills and around Jerusalem. According to Abuav, the participation of the school system continues "the decades-old Zionist tradition of planting trees and strengthening our connection to the land." The school system will also send thousands of pupils this week to work on environmental-awareness projects, such as marking bicycle paths, creating school Web sites on environmentalism, and competitions for ideas to reduce energy usage.