Report lists 119 specific threats to Israel’s open spaces

Society for the Protection of Nature points a finger at the projects, legislation and issues that endanger green areas

Illustrative photo of a park area in Jerusalem (Photo by Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)
Illustrative photo of a park area in Jerusalem (Photo by Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)

The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel released on Tuesday its annual report (Hebrew) on threats facing the country’s ecology. The report compiled 119 specific threats to nature in 2012 from legislation, construction, master plans and proposals.

According to SPNI, the goal of the report is to “protect the small amount of remaining open spaces in Israel” and promote “a policy of sustainable development.”

Among the threats listed are: new hotel construction on beaches in Eilat, petroleum production near Beit Shemesh, urban sprawl all over the country, the proposed Dead Sea-Red Sea canal, development plans in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem neighborhood, development in Mitzpe Rimon and plans for a new army base near Lod.

The report cites many business-oriented projects as threats to the environment and discusses government projects such as the West Bank separation barrier and its ecological impact. Furthermore, SPNI also lists the impact of what are usually considered green projects, such as proposed power-generating wind turbines in the Golan and eco-tourism villages in the Negev.

“The major forces threatening open spaces in Israel are housing, transport infrastructure, energy and water infrastructure, tourism and agriculture,” SPNI noted. “The destruction of these open spaces is likely to have dire environmental, educational, cultural, social and economic consequences for Israel.”

According to SPNI, there were 110 threats in 2011 and 81 in 2009. SPNI campaigns were able to block four of the projects from 2011, but six threats listed from 2011 were realized in 2012.

The report also lists 18 emerging threats for 2013, including a proposed reform in chicken coop regulations and rehabilitation and infrastructure development plans in the wake of the 2010 fire in the Carmel forest.

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