|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
"Pioneers frequently perceived the natural world as challenging, hostile wilderness to be tamed through diligent Jewish settlement. Songs extolling production, the beauty of concrete, and the importance of construction became part of a nationalistic liturgy. While Israeli Zionists were certainly not unaware of the splendor of the land of Israel, the task of nation building dominated their senses."
- Dr. Alon Tal
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