24 Jan Special for Tu B’Shvat: Israel’s Afforestation Policy: Is Tree Planting Good or Bad for Israel’s Nature?
The Jewish holiday of Tu B’shvat next week, the “new year for trees”, has traditionally been a time to aid Israel by supporting Israeli tree planting. Indeed, as every tour guide will remind you, Israel is the only country that ended the 20th century with more trees than which it began.
But has Israel’s afforestation policy been helpful or harmful to Israel’s unique ecology and biodiversity? Is there a continued need for new afforestation that converts Israel’s natural areas into planted forests? What are the environmental impacts of these actions, and should they continue?
Alon Rothschild, Director of Biodiversity Policy at the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, and author of a recent report on the topic, reviews the science and the policy around this issue and in the end will present SPNI’s recommendations for the future of Israeli forests.