Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Green by force

"The IUCN-World Conservation Union recently named Israel the nation with the highest percentage of preserved land in the Mediterranean region. According to the IUCN, Israel has set aside 16 percent of its land to protect nature. In contrast, Spain preserves 7.7 percent of its natural territory, France protects 11.7 percent and Lebanon - 0.5 percent.

Preserved land is defined as land in which there is no construction and is used as nature preserves, national parks, agricultural areas and forests. Israel's position as a front-runner on this list attests to its success in allocating significant portions of land to protect nature and the landscape.

The IUCN failed to mention, however, that a major portion of the Israeli open space which was included in the organization's survey is also used in military training exercises. Many nature preserves, and particularly those in the Negev, like the Holot Agur dunes, Tze'elim, Har Hanegev and the Eilat Mountains, are also used as Israel Defense Forces training areas. Military activity in these areas impacts nature, but most of the damage is minimal due to a unique agreement between the IDF and the Israel Nature & National Parks Protection Authority (INNPPA)."


tigermarks said...

You may also find that Israel uses "protected land" as a means to yank land away from Palestinians. I remember reading this somewhere. By allocating land adjacent to a Palestinian population center as protected they are able to halt growth of that city or town.

On the other hand, according to their web site(www.shoufcedar.org), the Arz El-Chouf reserve alone accounts for 5 percent of Lebanon's area.

Rami Zurayk said...

This is certainly true. A large proportion of the land that was to be given to the Palestinian fell into the category of "reserves", which had to continue to be protected by the Israeli army as the Palestinians could not be trusted to protect land with "scientific importance". But, magnanimous as always, the Israelis allowed access to joint Israeli-Palestinian scientists.