BLOG: Jerusalem Hills under Threat

Thursday, June 25, 2015 |  Israel Today Staff

On the slopes of the hills surrounding Jerusalem blooms a forest, the Jerusalem forest. Again and again, this unique habitat, the hills and the forest, are threatened. The latest threat comes from eight projects comprising 25,000 new housing units. The housing project is planned for the hills west of Jerusalem. A new highway would also lead through a now forested area. According to information from the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) provided on their website, the SPNI is currently taking action to stop the projects and the environmental damage they would cause. They cooperate with local municipalities, regional councils and other environmental organizations like the Jewish National Fund, Green Course and Life and Environment.

The Jerusalem forest covers parts of the south-western Jerusalem hills. The Jerusalem forest was planted in the late 1950s by the Jewish National Fund, financed by private donors. The very first tree was planted in 1956 by the second President of Israel, Itzhak Ben Zvi. The forest consists mostly of pine and cypress trees as well as oak, terebinth, carob, olive, fig and pomegranate trees. At its largest, the forest extended over about 4 square kilometers. Due to urban expansion it has shrunk and today covers about 1.2 square kilometers.

The western hills of Jerusalem have a great value for the environment. One can hear birds singing, insects buzzing, and small animals rustling through the leaves. But the hills not only constitutes a habitat for a variety of animals, trees and plants, it is also the “green lung” of Jerusalem. The plants and trees clean the air of the crowded city, there are a plenty of hiking tracks through the forest that allow the residents to enjoy the views and recreational areas. The hills of the Jerusalem Forest also have a historical significance as remains of ancient farming implements, burial caves, winepresses and cisterns are also dotted throughout the area.

According to the SPNI the proposed projects would encompass 18,000 dunams in the hills. Some of the area has recently been designated as nature reserves.

This was a blog post from "Plant the Holy Land" from our "Support Israel" section. We appreciate every donation. In order to help the Land of Israel and her residents see "Support Israel".

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