A Brief History of SPNI
SPNI was founded in 1953 by a small group of teachers, scientists and kibbutzniks who were attempting to save the Hula Wetlands. Although the draining of the Hula swamps could not be stopped at the time, the Government finally acknowledged the validity of the protesters' claims 40 years later when, in the mid-1990s, part of the Hula valley was re-flooded and returned to its original state.
Sixty years later, SPNI is still blazing the trail for nature and the environment in Israel. As the oldest, largest and most beloved environmental organization in Israel today, SPNI is more determined than ever to guard Israel's scant open spaces, protect its coasts and beaches, and promote sustainable development in order to preserve the country's natural resources for future generations. Tens of thousands of households are members of the SPNI, and hundreds of thousands of individuals participate in the organization's myriad activities each year, including thousands of children and young people who regularly participate in the organization's nature and orienteering courses.
SPNI – Pioneering for the Environment through Israel’s rapid development phase
Perhaps the greatest legacy of SPNI’s fifty years, however, is the identification and designation of the lands that have become Israel’s extraordinary Parks and Preserves system. Since then SPNI created a network of field schools, where Israelis and tourists have participated in guided hikes and nature educations program and tours throughout the country, for school children of all ages and for immigrants in their native languages.
SPNI – Pioneering Environmental Education in Public Schools across the country
Another of SPNI’s earliest – and best-known – campaigns revolved around the protection of Israel’s wildflowers. Using a combination of legal means and educational measures, the organization managed to completely stop the widespread habit of flower picking – once and for all. This legendary campaign worked because it revolved around environmental education for children – the children taught their parents – and Israel was transformed. This initiative was so popular that it triggered the formation of SPNI’s Environmental Education division, which operates in schools across Israel today.
SPNI – Pioneering Today by Offering Sustainable Alternatives
Today, however, the primary danger to nature in Israel is not the picking of wildflowers, but rather the fact that there may no longer be any land left where these flowers can grow! The acute shortage of open landscapes in Israel, currently one of the world's most densely populated countries, has led the SPNI to stand at the forefront of the struggle to prevent the destruction of unique ecosystems, scenic landscapes, open spaces and sandy coastlines through short-sighted and unwise development.
But rather than protest every dangerous new project, SPNI has changed the actual planning process in Israel. Rather than wait for SPNI to object to plans that threaten the environment, the government and private developers now work WITH SPNI’s urban planners, architects and GIS experts to develop sustainable plans with participation of local residents.