NATURE RESERVES IN ISRAEL
Despite its limited area, Israel has an extraordinarily varied landscape and a rich array of flora and fauna. There are some 2,800 different species
The dynamic development of modern Israel has inevitably affected plant and animal ecology. Some 500 new villages and a score of new towns, as well as the rapid expansion of existing ones, have encroached on areas of hitherto undisturbed wild life and natural vegetation. The quadrupling of the population, the rise in the standard of living, and the vast expansion of tourism, have brought large numbers of hikers and trippers to the countryside.
To protect the flora and fauna, a Nature Reserves Authority was established by the government in 1963. Some 380 areas have been selected as nature reserves in which landscape, flora, and fauna are protected in their natural condition. Some are large reserves, in which the flora and fauna maintain an equilibrium, for instance on Mt. Meron (about 70,000 dunams: 17,500 acres). There are also the smaller areas maintained for specific scientific reasons, e.g., winter pools to preserve lower crustacea and amphibians, a ridge of sandstone with its typical flora, islands on which common tern nest, and sites such as Ḥorshat Tal and Circassia as reminders of the landscape that once existed. While most of the reserves are open to the public, some are closed to preserve their scientific value. Facilities for visitors have been provided at Tel Dan, the "Tannur" near Metullah, the cave of "Pa'ar," the "Masrek" near Jerusalem, En-Gedi, etc., and the work is being extended to other places throughout the country. The Nature Reserves Authority has also undertaken to reintroduce species that have become extinct in Israel. At the Ḥai-Bar (wildlife) Biblical Game Reserve at Yotvata (34,500 dunams; 8,650 acres), attempts were begun in 1966 to breed some of these extinct species, with the approval of the World Wildlife Fund. Another Hai-Bar is located on Mt. Carmel (6,000 dunams; 1,500 acres) and includes species that used to live on the mountain. In 1998 the Nature Reserves Authority became part of the Israel Nature and Park Authority, a combined authority responsible for all the natural and archeological reserves and parks in Israel.
[Abraham Yoffe /
Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.