SPNI snapshot: Successes and Challenges
Thanks to your support 2015 was a successful and memorable year for SPNI. As we get ready to celebrate Tu B'Shvat, the Jewish Birthday for trees, we are taking a moment to reflect back on the year that’s just ended. Here are our top 11 stories from the last year (because we couldn’t cut it down to 10)
Photo: Iris Gal
Saving Nachsholim Beach
In early January, SPNI prevented developers from turning Nachsholim Beach, south of Haifa, into an exclusive resort. Our actions means that this environmentally important beach will be free for the public to enjoy any time they want – for free. Click here for more on this story.
Thousands of Israelis Celebrate Israel’s Open Spaces
From February to April over 15,000 Israelis took part in 25 events in 15 cities across Israel celebrating the diversity of Israeli nature. The events incorporated guided tours, activity booths, arts and crafts stations and musical and dramatic performances. Click here for more on this story.
The Gazelle Valley Park Opens
On 25th March Jerusalem’s Gazelle Valley Park officially opened to the public, the successful outcome of a 20 year campaign to save one of Jerusalem’s last natural spaces from real estate tycoons. Over 100,000 people have already visited this urban nature paradise and its herd of wild gazelle. Click here for more on this story.
Champions of the Flyway Raises $50,000
Recognized by Bird Watching Magazine as one of their top 50 events of 2015, Champions of the Flyway saw 31 teams from 15 different countries compete to spot the most bird species in 24 hours around Eilat and the Negev. The real winners were the birds as over $50,000 was raised for the campaign against the illegal killing of birds in Cyprus. Click here for more on this story.
Photo: Amir Balaban
Israel National Trail Online
From May to July, in partnership with Google Israel, SPNI youth volunteers photographed the entire Israel National Trail using Google Street View cameras. Over the past 6 months Google Israel has been processing the pictures and in the coming weeks they will be uploaded so the INT can be surfed from anywhere in the world. Click here for more on this story.
Photo: Menahem Reiss
Renowned Conservationist Braam Malherbe Visits
Braam Malherbe, the famous South African conservationist, visited Israel for a week and half at the end of May as part of his ‘Do One Thing’ tour. During his trip he spoke at the annual ceremony for the return of the swifts to the Western Wall, led SPNI’s Jerusalem Nature Walk, and visited Ramat Gan Safari Park. Click here for more on this story.
SPNI Youth Conference
Teenagers from across the country took part in our Annual Youth Conference marking the end of a new program developed by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Ministry of Education in collaboration with SPNI and ‘Green Course’. The program focused on engaging Israeli youth in environmental activism and social justice equipping them with skills to become leaders in Israeli society. Click here for more on this story.
Forming the Forum for Democratic Planning
In early June, SPNI convened an emergency meeting of Israel’s planners, environmentalists and civil activists to formulate an action plan against the government’s proposed changes to create a dictatorial and monopolistic planning system. This ongoing story will be the background for many battles in 2016. Click here for more on this story.
Sustainable Fishing Campaign Breakthrough
Following several years of campaigning in December 2015 Israel’s High Court ruled that from 2016 there will be a breeding season moratorium on all fishing from June until August, a trawling ban in April and May in waters shallower than 40 meters and a total ban on destructive bottom trawling. This ruling was a milestone breakthrough in our sustainable fishing campaign.
SPNI launches Sea Watch
In November SPNI launched “Sea Watch”, a mobile app, enabling the public, for the first time, to take a direct role in reporting maritime environmental incidents and hazards.
The public’s engagement has successfully put the state of the marine environment on the national agenda with authorities taking positive actions on the back of the submitted reports.
SPNI’s 7th Annual Nature & Environment Conference promotes Public Activism in Nature Conservation
Over 500 representatives of environmental organizations, government ministries, academics, educators, local and national activists, and members of the public participated in SPNI’s Annual Conference on December 21st. They debated topics around how the public can be engaged in nature preservation in the 21st century. Click here for more on this story.
Unfortunately SPNI, together with the rest of Israel’s environmental movement, is fighting an ongoing and ever-mutating battle against a series of competing, contradictory and well financed interests. Every year the issues seem to get more complex but these challenges in the face of adversity continues to bring the best out of SPNI’s tireless champions – our employees, supporters and friends. We hope we can continue to rely on your support in the year ahead.
As we begin 2016 these are the central issues on our agenda:
Stopping Oil Drilling and Fracking in the Golan Heights
SPNI is fighting to stop oil drilling in the Golan Heights before freshwater sources are polluted. Working together with local residents, farmers, kibbutzim and small businesses SPNI is fighting to stop Afek Oil and Gas, a subsidiary of Noble Energy before it is too late.
Campaign to Strengthen Jerusalem
The campaign continues to promote the construction of 40,000 housing units within Jerusalem rather than in the forest hills and nature reserves surrounding the city. A host of local and national politicians have already expressed their support and we’ll continue to fight until the last moment for the plans to be cancelled and sustainable and sensible planning to win.
Promoting Greener and Environmental Energy
At the end of 2015 SPNI published a report calling for the construction of solar panels on all roofs. As we move into 2016 we will work to implement our recommendations and launch pilot projects to ensure cheap, clean and sustainable electricity is available for all.