Urban Nature in the North

Dried up creek turned into a nature trail

When Nature and Industry Meet

My journey to understand the environmental projects and issues in the northern part of Israel began with Haifa.  This city has some beautiful environmental features.  Haifa sits along the coast 93 km (57.8 miles) north of Tel Aviv.  The Keshan River runs through the city and Haifa extends into nearby forests. 

The gorgeous and varied environment that is within and around Haifa, finds itself in danger by the city.  Haifa is the largest industrial city in Israel.  This has led to extremely high air and water pollution.  The Keshan River is considered to be one of the most polluted rivers in the Middle East.  Haifa is about to have a new and larger port built, which could further damage the species that live within its bay. 

Despite the high amount of pollution, the city and neighboring hills contains some great hiking trails.  Every summer there are 22 creeks that dry out.  These creeks become nature paths that can lead to Haifa’s bay, the port, or the sea.  These trails serve both and ecological purpose as well as a social purpose.  The trails are completely free for people to hike and are easy to reach by bus, car, or foot.  Community volunteers work to keep these trails clean throughout the year.  Once a month SPNI hosts free tours of the trails and throughout the school year students come to learn about the environment through the trails.

The Blossoming of HaEshel

When we arrived in Acre we met with the Director of the Western Galilee Eco-Community, Mordi Edri.  As we walked through a small neighborhood, he explained how Acre has a littering problem.  The plan to address this problem is to build community gardens in different areas to make residents more interested in the beauty of the area they in which they live.  After seeing the community garden in HaEshel, I understand why this is their plan.Spiral planter being built

HaEshel is a neighborhood in Acre that contains people from a variety of backgrounds. Both Arabs and Jews are working together to build a beautiful garden.  Although this was one of the smaller gardens I have seen, it contained the greatest variety of edible plants.  They grow various spices, fruits, and vegetables which are used for community meals.  Frequently the local residents celebrate birthdays, holidays, and other celebrations in this garden. 

Shiran, the Community Garden Director, explained how important this garden was to the community.  She told us how the garden brought members of the community together in ways that were unexpected.  This one garden has led to other residents being inspired to create their own personal gardens and neighbors helping each other build these gardens.  Shiran explained that one of their most active gardeners almost never left his house before the garden was created.  Now he is outside socializing and gardening every week.  Since the community garden was established three years ago, both Mordi and Shiran agree that there has been an incredible improvement in the HaEshel community.

Category: Nature Trips

Tagged under: Haifa, Acre, Urban nature, Pollution, Community Gardens