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The Environment in Israel:
Landscape Conservation


By Shoshana Gabbay

 

 

 
 

Overview

Historic Overview

Nature
Conservation

Landscape Conservation

Water Quality

Air Quality

Marine and Coastal Environment

Solid Waste

Hazardous Substances

Environmental Research

Toward a
Sustainable Future

 

 

 

  

Courtesy: E. Wardi

 

In the thirty-year period between 1960 and 1990, Israel's population more than doubled and its built-up area quadrupled. According to the long-range master plan (Israel 2020), the country's population will reach about 8.5 million in 2020 (nearly double the 1990 population) and its built-up area will more than double, emphasizing the diminishing pool of land resources.

 

Based on these data, the conservation of open space is a foremost concern. Although some 20% of Israel's land area is allocated for conservation of nature, pollution, construction and development have taken their toll. Under conditions of land scarcity, planners have been forced to grapple with the question of which areas may be transformed into built-up areas and which should remain as open spaces to fulfill a variety of social and ecological functions. Since the loss of open space to development is an irreversible process, future management of open space is of foremost importance.

 

Cyclamen       Photo: GPO

Over the past decade, the country's green bodies have banded together in a campaign to preserve Israel's landscapes in the face of mounting development pressures. As part of the campaign, countrywide studies and surveys were undertaken to assess the importance of open spaces in terms of their characteristics and intrinsic potential. Based on the data, a methodology for assessing open spaces was developed and integrated into building and planning master plans.

 

The planning approach now being advocated calls for directing development to appropriate areas in ways which will not destroy the ecosystem, the wildlife and the landscape features of each of the small but diverse landscape units of the country. Hopefully, Israel's ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitats (the Ramsar Convention), will further advance biodiversity and natural landscape conservation.