For the love of nature

Two weekends have been dedicated to raising awareness about our immediate environment .

buffnat88 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
As encroaching urbanization increasingly distances many Israelis from nature, awareness of the importance of our water sources has waned. For this reason, four national bodies have joined to promote awareness of this crucial environmental issue through a week-long series of outdoor events suitable for all the family. The Week of Love for Nature, Water and the Environment 2006: Preserving Our Water Sources is being organized for the third year running by the Nature and Parks Authority (, the Water Commission and the ministries of the environment and education. During the two weekends, the public is invited to participate in a wide diversity of guided tours in some of Israel's most beautiful nature and heritage sites, enjoying water sources and flowing rivers. Dozens of guided tours, special events and a wide range of activities on the theme of preserving and developing water sources and rivers is planned for Saturday March 18 and the March 24-25 weekend. The two Saturdays will also feature festive events including activities for children, recreational facilities, music and more. In most cases, there will be no extra charge for these activities beyond entrance fees to the sites. As in past years, the week's activities will relate to the theme of The Right of Humans and Nature to Water (protection of water sources, wetlands, water quality, water conservation, etc.). For some 120 years of human settlement in Israel, most of the swamplands were dried, river sources were diverted, and the majority of the country's springs were tapped. As a result, wondrous wetland habitats that once existed throughout the land were desiccated; unique flora and fauna became extinct and the very landscape of the country was unrecognizably altered. The Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority is the result of a gradual merger in recent years of the two organizations that once separately managed the country's nature reserves and national parks. As the authority's website notes, "Rapid urban development, economic progress and increasing transportation needs in Israel, together with the steep growth in population, have amplified the threat posed to the country's natural wonders, landscape, green spaces and historical sites." The wide variety of activities offered during the Week of Love is meant to increase public awareness - especially among students, youth and soldiers - about the importance of water for both humankind and nature so that the natural beauty of the country that has managed to survive will be saved. The activities are designed to raise public awareness of water issues, especially where they relate to the legitimate rights of both nature and humans to water. Attention will be focused on themes such as wetland conservation, education for water conservation, water management policies, alternative water sources and sustainable development of water sources. The week will feature tours of aquatic nature and heritage reserves, school trips, guided tours, workshops for students, inauguration of an ancient water system at the Beersheba National Park, an open day in nature reserves and national parks throughout the country, and presentation of professional and scientific studies on water-related issues. In addition, the week will feature a variety of special activities, free of charge, for some 250 classes of schoolchildren from the peripheral regions of the country, including free transportation, guided tours, educational kits, activities, field workshops and more. Liquid assets Here are some interesting facts about water: * Only about 0.25% of the total quantity of water on earth is fit for human consumption, and most of it is not available for use. * Some 70% of rainwater evaporates from the ground or from vegetation and returns to the atmosphere; 25% infiltrates groundwater and 5% flows in rivers. * Water distribution in Israel is as follows: 56% for agriculture; 38% for households; 6% for industry. * Over the years, industrial, agricultural and municipal pollution has led to the destruction of large parts of the country's water sources. This, along with the fact that water demand in Israel exceeds natural water supply, results in a severe scarcity of water. * Today, there is a deficit of 1.5 billion cubic meters of water in Israel's water sources. * The implementation of seawater desalination technology is helping to solve the water scarcity problem, thus transforming it into a question of economics only. The following is a list of activities and tours planned for the weekends of the Week of Love for Nature, Water and the Environment: NORTHERN REGION Saturdays - March 18 & 25 * Happening in the Hula Nature Reserve: Bird Stories - Love Happening for Nature, including a wide variety of activities related to birds * Banias Nature Reserve * Tel Dan Nature Reserve * Gamla Nature Reserve * Hula Nature Reserve * Nahal Amoud Nature Reserve * Nahal Tabor Nature Reserve * Mount Carmel National Park * Nahal Taninim Nature Reserve * Tel Megiddo National Park * Zippori National Park * Nahal Tsalmon Nature Reserve * Ein Afek Nature Reserve Friday, March 24 Family tour in the Tel Dan Nature Reserve Friday, March 24 Guided tours in the Dan and Nucheila Springs area CENTRAL REGION Saturdays, March 18 & 25 * Happening in the Mekorot Hayarkon National Park: Water, Water for Nature - a festival of tours, stories, workshops and music on the theme of water * Nahal Alexander National Park * Nahal Poleg Nature Reserve * Nahal Shikma Nature Reserve JUDEA & SAMARIA Saturdays, March 18 & 25 * Einot Tsukim Nature Reserve * Ein Perat Nature Reserve * Qumran Nature Reserve Saturday, March 18 Jordan River baptism site - King Abdullah Bridge, Dead Sea Works, Lower Nahal Og, Nahal Salvadora March 24-25 weekend In the Water Paths - Anatot-Eit Perat-Eit Mabua Friday, March 24 Family tour in the City of David National Park SOUTHERN REGION Saturdays, March 18 & 25 * Happening in the Eshkol National Park. Market on the Water - Picturesque farmer's market, workshops for children and recreational facilities (for a nominal fee), along with appearances by actors and acrobats, free of charge. The public is invited to enjoy a picnic on the grounds of the park, wading pools for children, fishing in the springs (with fishing rods), bicycle renting, paddleboats and more. Saturday, March 18 Massada National Park, Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, Ein Ovdat National Park Saturday, March 25 Massada National Park, Ein Bokek Nature Reserve, Tel Beersheba National Park, Ein Avdat National Park. Friday March 24 Massada National Park, Ein Gedi Nature Reserve EILAT AREA Saturday, March 18 * Happening in the Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve For more information on activities during the Week of Love, call the Nature and Parks Authority's reservation center at *3639 or visit