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SPNI NEWS

www.natureisrael.org

The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel

Dear friends,

Visit us today at www.natureisrael.org!

‫‏‬This year SPNI is celebrating its 60th anniversary-six decades of devoted work protecting and preserving Israel's natural heritage. Following the drying of the Hula swamp in 1953 a small group of dedicated individuals established Israel's first environmental NGO. SPNI has grown to be Israel's largest and leading environmental group with a wide variety of programs and projects, serving as a national wingspan and receives the highest accolades from the Israeli public. It is this public support from which we draw our strength and for that we thank you, our donors, supporters and friends.

Our new website provides the latest information on Nature News, information about SPNI, and upcoming events in your area. Comments or questions? E-mail us at international@spni.org.il

‫‏‬As we celebrate our first 60 years, our face is to the future. To secure SPNI in the years to come and ensure Israel's sustainable development we must continue our vigilance in watching over Israel's nature and landscape. In the last year we have launched several new initiatives to strengthen and expand our membership base. Through our "on the ground" initiatives, we have established a new presence in Canada and in France and created the new role of membership outreach in the United States. "In the air" we have launched a completely new English website with more information, more pictures and a simpler user interface. We have initiated new social media campaigns and will continue their development throughout the coming months. We have begun a transition to reducing paper consumption in our office in and our interaction with our donors. To that end, if you do not receive e-mail communication from us, we ask you contact us through our website to provide an e-mail address or sign up for our newsletter. ‫‏‬As we learned from our sages "It is not upon you to complete the task, but you are not at liberty to cease from it" (Ethics of the Fathers; Pirkei Avot). It is now time to look at the next 60 years. We invite you to seize the opportunity to make a difference. Now is the time to renew your pledge, plan your giving and take part in safeguarding our children and grandchildren's future in the Land of Israel.

Uri Goldflam Director Resource Development and Foreign Relations T: +972-3-6388623 urig@spni.org.il

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Educate. Love. Protect.

Spring 2013


Community SPNI's Urban Community Program for the Municipal Elections Year-2013 The Green Hive initiative is based on SPNI's vision to promote a sustainable lifestyle and aiming to lead a significant and influential process that will increase urban density while raising the quality of life in Israel's cities. The Green Hive aims to make city councils and committees more transparent, O ‫ ‏‬n a municipal level, SPNI will train observers to participate in municipal committees' discussions. The observers will monitor municipal policies, raise questions, offer proposals with the end goal of publishing a report detailing the committee's voting patterns regarding the social and ecological issues discussed. We hope to tighten the connection between social and environmental causes and creating a network of community leaders across the country. ‫‏‬Through this comprehensive approach we plan to strengthen local democracy and transparency, monitor decision making procedures and to ensure environmental pledges given during election campaigns are kept.

Tel Aviv

Hagar Spiro-Tal joined the Tel Aviv Community as their new director in October of 2012. Originally from Jerusalem, Hagar has lived in Tel Aviv for the past six years and has a passion for nature that's followed her through life. P ‫ ‏‬rior to joining SPNI, Hagar co-founded and was the comanager of the movement "URBANICA - Urban Awakening", whose vision was to promote cities which reflect the residents in public areas and to encourage public participation as an integral part of planning processes. H ‫ ‏‬agar brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to SPNI's Tel Aviv community, which was established in order to preserve, protect and develop the nature and environment within the city and to influence the public agenda. "Nature doesn't stop in the city, but is an integral part of it. We have to ensure that the rapid development in central Israel will not infringe on the right of nature to exist, or on the rights of people to enjoy an urban and "green" qxaauality of life. I support the advancement of transparency through the accessibility of the public [to municipal leadership], through public participation, and through environmental leadership activities that link social and environmental justice" said Hagar. H ‫ ‏‬agar and her team continue to establish partnerships with residents, civic coalitions and organizations as well as by working with municipal and governmental offices. Creating a cohesive community and strengthening environmental education, all important goals for Hagar and her team. H ‫ ‏‬agar is married and mother to a 3 year old daughter. We would like to congratulate Hagar on her appointment, welcome her to the SPNI family and wish her success as Director of the Tel Aviv community.

This stems from our belief that residents are equal stakeholders in the cities' planning and management and our belief in local participatory democracy as a key condition in promoting a sustainable urban future for Israel’s large cities. We look forward to the success of the Green Hive Project and thank Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the Green Environment Fund for their generous support.

Modi'in Approximately 8,000 people attended our 14th annual nature tour in honor of Tu B'Shvat. This year's tour was sponsored by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and SPNI's Modi'in Orienteering group, which was provided to residents free of charge. The tour highlighted issues surrounding nature conservation and included several stations where participants could stop and learn about environmental issues facing their community. The tour was held in the southern hills of Modi'in, an area which is currently threatened by the city's "phase B" development plan. The southern hills are home many different species of plants and animals indigenous to Israel, such as the porcupine, birds of prey, and more. The Modi'in community is working hard to ensure that the planning committee will act to protect the southern hills from development. If "phase b" moves ahead, the area will no longer be able to serve as one of Israel's main ecological corridors, forcing entire ecosystems, both unique and rare, to disappear. Just last month, SPNI's Modi'in Community and the Ma-li nonprofit organization teamed up and called on Modi'in's residents to bring in their cash-refund bottles. Most beverage bottles and cans can be returned in Israel for anywhere between 30 agurot (about 8 cents) to 1.3 shekels (about 25 cents). Representatives of Ma-li greeted residents at the Azrieli Mall in Modi'in to collect the bottles, which in turn were converted into money that was directly donated to local non-profits, including SPNI. The money raised from the empty drink bottles is used to give back to the community in areas such as environmental education, free nature tours, strengthening environmental awareness among residents, and more. 


Education SPNI's next generation commemorates Yom HaShoah

‫‏‬SPNI’s own youth movement, "Dor Hemshech", took some time from their normal activities to commemorate Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). ‫‏‬

SPNI's Youth Movement Raises awareness to Environmental Threats ‫‏‬Teenagers from Tel Aviv's orienteering program decided to go on a hike covering six threats from the annual threats report, located between Rosh Ha'Ayin and Shoham. Taking place over the weekend, the youth started in the Antipatrus fortress, built by King Herod's Father, and then worked their way to the Shoham forest. In each of the locations where there was an existential threat to the environment, the group stopped to have a discussion and took pictures. The pictures (above) show chidlren holding signs naming the threat to the place, which they then used as a platform to raise awareness among the public. We salute these youth for their dedication and passion for protecting Israel's environment.

Ninety members of Dor Hemshech, many who had lost family members in the Holocaust, started their day of reflection in the Valley of the Communities in Yad Vashem (Israel’s Holocaust Museum). Etched in the silent stones of the valley's memorial were the names of 5,000 communities, all wiped out during the Holocaust. Here, the group contemplated and reflected upon the concept of heroism during the Holocaust. After exiting Yad Vashem the teenagers hiked down to Beit Zayit where they volunteered, in the memory of the fallen, with the charity Kaima. Kaima teaches agriculture to teenagers who have dropped out of school giving the youngsters a vocational career path and hope for their future. Together our group and the teenagers tilled the soil in preparation for planting of vegetables that will benefit the community. ‫‏‬In the evening, the group joined the official memorial service of Israel’s scouting movement, the "Tzofim", where they observed a minute silence for the 6 million Jews who were wiped out by the Nazis. On the morning of Yom HaShoah itself the entire group held their own private ceremony. They lit candles, and talked about members of their own families who perished during the Holocaust. On completion of the moving service, the group solemnly hiked up to the Knesset – the home of Israel’s government, symbolizing the strong resolve of the Jewish people.

1st Annual Reunion for Service Year Graduates Every year, thousands of Israeli youth decide to defer their mandatory army service and give back to the community. These youth can choose to volunteer with SPNI, which often serves as the next step for many youngsters that graduate our environmental education programs. Upon completing their service year with SPNI, many of these young environmentalists continue to serve in positions in the Education Corps where they can serve places such as periphery towns and in SPNI's Eco-Community Centers. ‫‏‬This year, we've initiated our first annual reunion of all graduates of the program. Each year's reunion will comprise of a nature tour focusing on a different threat to nature conservation. This year's tour takes place on

Friday, May 17th in Nahal Machukh, an area rich with biodiversity that is under threat of impending plans to build a waste disposal site. By raising awareness to nature sites under threat and bringing together the ever growing group of Service Year graduates, SPNI is planting the environmental seeds of hope for Israel's future generations. ‫‏‬In order to continue our many educational programs, we need your help. Please contribute today. If your synagogue, church or local community would like to sponsor a program like what you just read, please contact your local SPNI representative.


Birding Injured Egyptian Vulture rescued in International effort ‫‏‬In something out of James Bond, a top secret, night-time operation was staged on Friday, April 19th to rescue a wounded year old Egyptian Vulture from Jordan and bring him home to Israel. ‫‏‬SPNI, in coordination with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, relevant Jordanian authorities and the Hanns Seidel Foundation from Germany, worked to rescue this endangered bird, injured after colliding with an electrical line. The vulture was originally found by a Jordanian citizen in the Dana Nature Reserve, near the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea, who then reported it to the authorities. Since the bird had a tag identifying it as hatched in Israel, the Jordanians got in touch with Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority. Since an official diplomatic transfer of the bird would have taken too much time to process, there was no way to repatriate him via official government channels so SPNI, as an NGO with a track record of working with birds and international projects in Jordan was called in. ‫‏‬Noam Weiss, SPNI’s coordinator for the recently completed biological pest control project with Jordan, was selected to go across the border to collect the Egyptian vulture. Obviously, transferring an endangered animal from one country to another (especially where Israel is involved) involves no small amount of bureaucracy, but thanks to the Hanns Seidel Foundation we were able to cut through the red tape in record time. ‫‏‬At 3:00 am Noam crossed the border at Eilat and sped up the motorway to the Dana Nature Reserve where the vulture was being held. Three hours later, Noam and arrived and within 15 minutes the vulture was in Noam’s possession and headed back home to Israel. 8 hours later the Egyptian Vulture, and Noam, arrived at the Animal Hospital at the Ramat Gan Safari Park where Dr. Shmulik Landau was waiting to see the patient. After an examination it was determined that the Egyptian Vulture had a broken wing and was suffering from severe dehydration, but was otherwise ok. The Egyptian Vulture is now resting and recovering at the Safari Park’s Animal Hospital before being released into the wild again, hopefully with more sense and none the worse for wear.

‫‏‬

Recap: The 7th Eilat Birds Festival

‫‏‬Another great festival season is behind us. The 7th Eilat Birds Festival took place over March 13th-20th and over 200 birders, photographers and nature lovers from 11 nationalities took part in the festivities. These included daily tours to the best sites in Southern Israel including the Dead Sea and the Negev, and incredible night tours aptly named “Rambo Nights” where we aim (and succeeded) in seeing both the critically endangered Nubian Nightjars and the enigmatic Hume’s Tawny Owl in one night. Every evening visiting birders enjoyed a casual Birders Pub where daily summaries and expert presentations took place, drawing an enthusiastic crowd. The Eilat Birds Festival, which is organized by SPNI’s Israel Ornithological Center, proved once again that birding tourism is a viable and valuable source for generating funds for bird conservation. This is where visiting birders truly make a difference as all benefits from the festival go directly to conservation projects in Israel, For that we thank you.

‫ ‏‬he 8th Eilat Birds Festival will take place on the 23-30 March 2014. T For more information log on to: www.eilatbirdsfestival.com


Environmental Protection

The Train to Eilat- Stopping the Train of Illusions Picture yourself boarding a train in Tel Aviv heading south. Riding through magnificent desert views, impressive craters and other unique natural and historical sites such as Ma'ale Akrabim, Ein Akrabim, Nahal Gov, Mount Zin and Ein Zin and after 2 and a half hours arriving in Eilat. That is how the new Eilat Train Project is marketed. Sounds like a dream doesn’t it? Well, it's more like a nightmare. A thorough analysis of the project, one of the major infrastructure initiatives in Israeli history, revelas the destructive effects on the natural areas and their ecosystems in the heart of Israel's south. While the chosen train route might be the cheapest financially, it will come with a heavy environmental price tag. Building the railway and the required infrastructure will destroy the beautiful and natural desert scenery, shattering ecological corridors and sensitive ecosystems in the Negev, and harm the quality of life for local residents. The City of Eilat will also have to undergo fundamental changes to accommodate the extensive use of cargo shipments arriving by sea. Building a new port would endanger Eilat's coral reef, a unique marine ecosystem and one of the city's most important

tourist attractions.    A report ordered by Israel's Nature and Parks Authority found that the Eilat Train Project is not cost effective and is a huge waste of public money. The new train line will not become a viable alternative to the Suez Canal, and according to this assessment it will take over 40 years and 2 million passengers annually for the government to recoup the investment – as well as potentially causing further diplomatic tension with Egypt because of its competition with the Suez Canal.  In the meantime, the NIS 40 billion earmarked for the train can instead be used towards the expansion public transportation that is much needed in Israel.  SPNI recognizes the real economic and developmental need to connect Eilat and the Negev to the rest of the country. As such, we have commissioned an independent team of Israeli economic and transportation experts to develop alternatives that are both economically and environmentally friendly. For updates please continue to visit:  www.natureisrael.org/news  

‫ב איומים‬ ‫בתחום‬ ‫התכנון‬ ‫שמירה על‬ ‫השטחים הפתו והבנייה‬ ‫חים‬ ‫דוח ה‬ ‫בישראל‬ ‫חברה לה‬ ‫גנת הטבע‬

Society

for the Protecti

Israel’s

on of Na ture in Planni Israel ng & Bu Open Sp ilding Threa aces ts to

SPNI Releases Annual Threats Report for 2013 SPNI’s 6th Annual Report on the Threats to Open Spaces identifies the main threats to open spaces in Israel at the beginning of 2013. The report is a testament to the hard work of SPNI, together with other public bodies and leading figures in 2012. The overarching goal of this work is to raise awareness of the threats to the small amount of remaining open spaces in Israel and to promote a policy of sustainable development. To read the english summary of the report, visit us online at www.natureisrael.org/reports

‫איומים‬ 2013 ‫ד‬ 6 ’‫וח מס‬

Annual Report 2013 for

Report

No. 6


SPNI News is published with the generous support of the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation

Mission to Israel - November 14 th -21 st , 2013

Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel 2 HaNegev Street Tel Aviv, 66186 Israel Tel: (972) 3-638-8653 Fax: (972) 3-687-0513 international@spni.org.il www.natureisrael.org

Join ASPNI and CSPNI for the ultimate trip for nature lovers in Israel as we celebrate SPNI’s 60th birthday. Led by SPNI’s experienced guides, you will see the most spectacular landscapes Israel has to offer, and enjoy personal experiences with Israel’s endemic species. As well as visiting the Hula Valley Bird Festival, you will see the impact of your support for SPNI firsthand and be briefed by our experts about the challenges and threats to Israel’s environment and nature. To book your place now, please contact your local SPNI office. More information can be found at: www.natureisrael.org/mission

Kosha (Moshe) Pakman Executive Director Uri Goldflam ‫‏‬Director, Resource Development and Foreign Relations American SPNI 28 Arrandale Avenue Great Neck, NY 11024 Tel: (212) 398-6750 Fax: (212) 398-1665 robin@aspni.org Leon Sokol & Russell Rothman ASPNI Co-Chairmen Robin Gordon ASPNI Director Canadian SPNI 25 Imperial St. Suite 200 Toronto, Ontario M5P 1B9 Tel: 1-416-224-2318 spnicanada@gmail.com Allan Shiff CSPNI Director SPNI UK PO Box 42763 London, N2-OYJ Tel: (020) 8444 0777 Fax: (020) 8444 0681 info@foi-asg.org John Levy SPNI UK Director

The 3rd International Hula Valley Bird Festival November 10th-17th, 2013 The Hula Valley Bird Festival offers a full week of birding tours led by the best guides in Israel. Besides the regular backdrop of 25,000 Cranes and some of the rarest birds of prey in Europe, the Hula is one of the best places in Israel for mammal encounters such as the jungle cat, golden jackal and even the wolf. The week starts with several introductory tours to the magical Hula valley, followed by tours to the best sites in Northern Israel, from the alpine peaks of Mt. Hermon to the low lying shores of the Sea of Galilee. The previous festival hosted over 150 birders that swept over Northern Israel, logging an amazing 202 species of birds including a handful of quality vagrants and memorable migration experiences. Once again, all festival profits go directly to bird conservation projects around Israel. Join us for a memorable week in one of the best fall birding destinations in the world. For more information log on to: www.hulabirdfestival.org

SPNI France 14 rue Angelique Verien Neuilly 92200 Tel/Fax: +33-(0)1-4637-5543 irl@club-internet.fr Norbert Lipszyc SPNI France Director SPNI Newsletter: Editor: Drew Alyeshmerni drew@spni.org.il Graphics: www.studiohadag.com Photo Credits: Jonathan Meyrav SPNI Staff

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SPNI spring 2013