|Space Matters: Historic Drivers and Turning Points in Israel’s Open Space Protection Policy|
By Dr. Alon Tal
This article considers the history of open-space preservation in Israel from the inception of the state until the present. The primary modes for protecting open spaces are assessed: nature reserves, forests and agriculturally designated lands. While present frameworks ensure that reserves and forests remain well protected, there has been significant erosion in the normative protection of agricultural lands, reflected in their steady decline. Three encouraging recent developments are considered. The first is a new master plan for Israel (number 35) that was approved by the government in 2005. While not without its flaws, the plan constitutes an important formal open space for Israel. Economic analysis, previously unexploited, is also increasingly quantifying the benefits of open spaces. Relentless activism across the country has produced a litany of achievements for open-space preservation advocates. This article closes with a review of present challenges to open spaces including illegal construction in the agricultural and Bedouin sectors as well as the isolated settlement program. While Israeli public policy has made open-space preservation a higher priority, as population density rises, the demand for land makes open-space preservation an ongoing national challenge.
Israeli Nature Poll
"Thus water, after having penetrated the soil, is collected in the clouds and seas; light, after having permeated the earth and brought forth the plants-these children of light-is yet concentrated in the sun, the moon and the stars; the seed, after germination in the ground, is taken from the earth to become the ripened fruit, so that the earth will have to receive in order to give again. Thus one immense bond of love, of giving and receiving, unites all beings."
- Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch
Did You Know?
JNF's Blueprint Negev plan calls for developing in the Negev desert 25 new communities with a total population of 500,000.
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