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SPNI NEWS

The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel

Dear friends, SPNI has had a busy and exciting summer. I am pleased to share with you our latest newsletter, highlighting the continuing successes of the last 60 years and the current challenges we face. Our renowned education programs have touched the lives of thousands of Israeli children this year. Discover how our summer camps connected our youth to the importance of their homeland in the natural world. Our birding programs have enjoyed great success. Read the astonishing story of Israel's Sooty Falcons. Our focus, working through local challenges often has a large reach. Find out how our communities are growing our network of partners and affecting change in the upcoming municipal elections. The Environmental Protection Department faces both new and old demands. Learn about our ongoing work defending the "Batcave." We are delighted by how our virtual community has flourished online. Our communities around the world are blossoming with new engaging activities. We invite you to take part in our global community dedicated to protecting nature in Israel. None of this could have happened without your generosity and support. As we enter the holiday season in Israel, the heat fades and the earth comes to life. We are grateful for your ongoing help preserving our vibrant, natural landscape. Please renew your commitment to SPNI. May you and your loved ones have a good, healthy, successful new year! Shana Tova!

Uri Goldflam and SPNI's Foreign Relations Staff Resource Development and Foreign Relations T: +972-3-6388623 urig@spni.org.il

Educate. Love. Protect.

www.natureisrael.org

Save the Date – Upcoming Events

SPNI's 60th Anniversary Celebration In honor of SPNI's 60th Anniversary, all employees, past and present, will be gathering at Agam HaHoref Park in Netanya for an evening of celebration. Any past employees that will be in Israel on October 10th are invited to join the event. Register via the internet: www.teva.org.il/nifgashim

OCTOBER

10

International Hula Valley Bird Festival Now in its 3rd year, the amazingly successful Hula Valley Bird Festival will give bird lovers and nature enthusiasts alike the opportunity to visit the flourishing Hula Valley. Enjoy the wildlife and beautiful landscapes of northern Israel. Birders will be impressed to find the diverse variety of species, last year's participants logged over 200!

NOVEMBER

10-17

Mission to Israel Join SPNI in Israel on our first donor Mission to Israel. Enjoy the spectacular vistas of natural Israel. Meet the birdwatchers for a day at the Hula Bird Festival. Learn about the SPNI projects that you help support and how SPNI is working to combat the environmental challenges Israel faces. Please contact international@spni.org.il or visit us at: natureisrael.org/mission to sign up today.

NOVEMBER

14-21

Fall 2013


Birding Summering with the Birds ‫‏‬The Jerusalem Bird Observatory has had a busy and exciting summer, hosting two summer camp programs. In July, the JBO welcomed over seventy children from the Jerusalem area for a three week session. The campers went bird watching with the JBO research staff, learned how to sketch wildlife with a young artist, navigated a challenging ropes course and conducted science experiments together. ‫‏‬Toward the end of July the JBO was proud to launch the first SPNI English language summer session. American children joined kids from all over Israel in a special two week program. SPNI is very excited about this program and hopes to see it expand next summer.

Betzalel Students Display a Taste for Nature This summer our Jerusalem Bird Observatory worked closely with Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design students to host the Nature of Material exhibition at the Gail Rubin Gallery. The artwork was created by Bezalel students from the Department of Ceramics and Glass who spent time immersing themselves in the ecosystem around the JBO and creating sculptures from their experiences. The works were on display from July 7th through the 16th and received great admiration.

Save the Date! 8th Annual Eilat Birds Festival

March 2014

23-30

Sooty Falcon Flies High ‫‏‬The Sooty Falcon can be found throughout Northern Africa, across the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula. Construction and development in these regions has shrunken the Sooty Falcon's natural habitat endangering this small, blue-gray bird of prey. The most recent global data shows that the Sooty Falcon's population has been decreasing over the last twenty years. ‫‏‬The Sooty Falcon is a unique migratory bird because its' eggs hatch during the migration period allowing the hatchlings to use other migrating birds for food. Approximately 10% of the world population nests in Israel, with the last comprehensive survey of the population completed in 1984. At that time data indicated that there were about one hundred pairs of falcons nesting in Israel's deserts. In autumn of 2011 a new survey was initiated by SPNI, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority and the Israel Electric Corporation. Data from the past were combined with current data gathered from interviews with veteran travel guides, birders and desert residents. The survey was conducted mostly in remote desert areas, including small, three day expeditions to previously uninspected sites. Although the survey is still incomplete, with data from one more nesting season not yet gathered and included, the initial results have been encouraging. Current estimates place the Sooty Falcon population in Israel at about one hundred pairs of falcons, based on 46 pairs that were observed since 2011. These results show the importance of the Israeli population of these elegant birds. Unlike global trends, the Israeli population is not declining. SPNI hopes to continue to help protect the Sooty Falcon and its habitats.


Education

Nature Camps for the Youngsters ‫‏‬Each summer, SPNI offers Israeli children in grades 1-6 nature camps throughout the country. This summer, seven three week sessions ran in July and four three week sessions in August. The campers engaged with their peers and a delightful, young staff in natural, green environments. They learned about wildlife and biodiversity, played games and went on hikes. This year the program included, a bird watching day, a survival skills day during which the children built a camp fire and participated in challenging field missions and a recycling day when the children were encouraged to think outside the box to find new uses for old things. The program also included sports days, pool days and other fun activities. The camps were a big success, many campers wrote thank you notes to their counselors, "I had so much fun, I can't wait to come back next summer!"

Summer Nature Adventures

Natureality TV

‫‏‬For students in grades 5 through 11 SPNI offers incredible nature trips to different locations around the country. Children from all over Israel join together for five day, four night summer adventures in our great outdoors. This summer was no exception, we offered 25 separate trips. Our programs included The Good Life and Sea & Sky in the Golan Heights, Head in the Clouds at Mount Meron and Waves & Wilderness in Eilat. In the Golan Heights, the kids had the opportunity to go tubing and kayaking, hike through rushing streams, cook and eat around the campfire, take a night swim beneath the stars and sleep in the moonlight. In Eilat, the youngsters explored the Red Sea and the Eilat Desert, sailing and swimming with fish as well as hiking the Eilat Hills, sleeping under the stars and waking early to watch the sunrise. At Mount Meron the kids lounged in the Achziv Laguna, went kayaking in the Jordan River, were introduced to a variety of reptiles and slept around the campfire. The campers have the opportunity to meet their peers from all over the country and connect with the natural environment. SPNI hopes they found, in their peers, in their surroundings and in themselves, friends for life!

For the first time in Israel, SPNI has installed night vision cameras hidden in natural habitats in order to learn about animal behavior without disrupting their daily routine. ‫‏‬Many of the travelers throughout Israel have heard time and and time again of the leopards, foxes and other rare animals that are lurking close by. Unfortunately, we rarely get to see them. Under the direction of the SPNI Mammal Dept, high resolution cameras have been installed in remote locations allowing us to observe wildlife in its natural setting. The cameras have recently discovered the existence of the Cliff Fox, thought to be extinct in this area. ‫‏‬In the heart of the Upper Galilee, Gush Halav Elementary school launched an educational project with the goal of connecting the children to their local environment. Our Mammal Department teamed up with the school and the Western Galilee Eco-Community Center to help the students research and survey the area's forest and wildlife through special night-vision cameras. One highlight of the project was photographing a family of foxes.  ‫‏‬Congratulations to the 5th grade class of the Gush Halav Elementary School for their marvelous effort!

Children's Conference Crowns Tarshicha ‫‏‬In May, our 13th annual Children's Conference coincided with the 33rd annual Spring March in Ma'alot Tarshicha in northern Israel. Over 4,000 grade school students from all over the country joined together to celebrate the pinnacle of SPNI's education programs. This year the events were hosted in collaboration with the Western Galilee Rivers and Streams Authority and sponsored by the Ministry of Education. ‫‏‬The festivities took place on Lake Monfort. During the conference, the children went on hikes along various local streams and wadis in the Galilee and participated in captivating activities focused on protecting and rehabilitating rivers. ‫‏‬The conference is the annual culmination of SPNI's extensive educational programs, contributing to a youth culture that is connected to nature, devoted to preserving natural habitats, biodiversity and natural water sources. The conference was developed as part of

the "Children Make a Difference" program geared toward raising children to be aware of environmental threats and empowering the students to pursue conservation efforts throughout their lives. With students of diverse backgrounds joining together from some thirty cities throughout the country, the conference was a chance for the children to feel part of something on a national scale. ‫‏‬The conference culminated with a massive ceremony, joined by Minister of Education, Shai Piron, SPNI Executive Director, Kosha Pakman, Mayor of Ma'alot Tarshicha, Shlomo Buchvot, President of the Western Galilee Rivers and Streams Authority, Shifra Ben-Dod, parents, teachers and SPNI staff. Popular child stars Udi & Aviad and Roni Rock performed a special song composed for the occasion, with an enormous singa-long including the voices of thousands of children. SPNI looks forward to watching these children become tomorrow's conscientious leaders.


Community Preserving Urban Nature in the Holy City

‫‏‬On July 18th, SPNI and the City of Jerusalem held a conference titled: Jerusalem's Urban Nature. Attended by SPNI Director, Kosha Pakman, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Naomi Tzur, Director of SPNI's Jerusalem Community, Sigalit Rachman, Jerusalem City Engineer Shlomo Eshkol and SPNI Urban Nature Coordinator, Amir Balaban, SPNI presented a comprehensive ecological survey for the City of Jerusalem and its surrounding areas. Jerusalem became the first municipality to engage a citywide policy promoting nature and bio-diversity within the city, complete with an ecological policy outlining tool for planning, management and conservation within the city. This program is not only unique to Israel but to the world. Of the number of panelists, SPNI Urban Planner, Panina (Pearl) Kaplan, discussed how the criteria for assessing ecosystem function will help the city to maintain urban nature when planning new construction. ‫‏‬Amir Balaban announced that the conference was a breakthrough event, with Jerusalem municipality officials setting a new precedent throughout Israel, and the world, to take into account the impact of all construction and planning and to preserve natural habitats and resources within the city for its people and our future.

SPNI Weclomes Shmulik Yidov! S ‫ ‏‬PNI is excited to welcome Shmulik Yidov as the new Director of our Mammal Department. Shmulik received his undergraduate degree from the Faculty of Agriculture in Rehovot. He holds a Master's Degree in Ecology and Environment from the Zoology Department at Tel Aviv University. The research for his Master's thesis was the "Begging Strategy of the House Sparrow Fledglings." From the completion of his studies in 1998 until January of 2013, Shmulik served as the director of the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem. Many of his responsibilities at the Biblical Zoo involved nature conservation, so his move to SPNI was a natural progression, especially since he has felt a bond to SPNI since his days as a guide in his youth. While he is at SPNI, Shmulik hopes to further our conservation projects with the most impact and farthest reach. For example, he proposes a change in our position on sanitation issues, to encourage recycling and reuse of waste to promote growth and life. He looks forward to bringing his expertise to issues of animal conservation, preserving unique habitats and the diverse ecological systems of Israel.

What's the Buzz? Green Hive: Tel Aviv S ‫ ‏‬PNI was proud to partner with the Konrad-AdenaurStiftung to promote environmental awareness and sustainable development at the municipal level throughout Israel by creating the Green Hive. O ‫ ‏‬n June 18th SPNI hosted our first Green Hive event bringing together over 90 environmental activists from across Israel. Our goal was to raise awareness of environmental issues during the upcoming 2013 municipal elections. We were proud to introduce our policy paper presenting issues of urban sustainability. S ‫ ‏‬PNI conducted an intensive survey with the help of our urban planners to compile the important concerns facing the world's modern cities, including, environmental trends, the state of urban nature in Israel and preserving open spaces in cities. The paper incorporated recent international treaties that have influenced SPNI's views, as well as current information on urban environmental management. T ‫ ‏‬he second section of the survey focuses on topics especially relevant at the local level, particularly in central cities where we are active, including residential construction and infrastructure planning as well as integrating these issues into public committees and forums to improve the quality of government and boost accountability. S ‫ ‏‬PNI was pleased to present this paper in Tel Aviv. With further support and participation of our partners, SPNI aspires to achieve continued successes in sustainable urban planning and the preservation of oases of nature within Israel's cities.


Environmental Protection Over the Hill? Not Yet In Modi'in, the Central District Committee for Planning and Building has been developing a plan for the preservation of Titura Hill. The plan was introduced by the mayor of Modi'in, Haim Bibas, to make Titura Hill a Nature Park, barring the construction of housing units there which are in the first stages of development.  This summer Modi'in residents and SPNI have been active in the discussion, coming out to support the conservation of Titura Hill as a public, open space. Preservation of natural spaces in and around Modi'in is vital to Israel's main north-south ecological corridor, effecting local and global biodiversity. The city will need to develop an alternate plan for the residential development in order to designate the area as a nature reserve. There will be a public hearing to consider alternate solutions. Dikla Ben-Yaakov, the director of SPNI's Modi'in Community, said that the important steps are being take to secure Titura Hill as a Nature Park for the benefit of residents and visitors, but there is still work to be done to ensure that the District Committee approves the final plans to protect Titura Hill as a nature reserve.

Defending the Batcave ‫‏‬SPNI was disappointed to learn that in mid-July the Ministry of Defense demolished two abandoned military posts in the Jordan Rift Valley, likely burying hundreds of bats alive. ‫‏‬Bats represent about a third of the Israeli population of mammals. Over thirty different species of bats live throughout the country, representing an integral part of the ecosystem. ‫‏‬Along the Jordan Rift Valley, many bats have found safe havens in military posts created after the Oslo Accords, and since abandoned. These cave-like bunkers resemble their natural habitats. In 2006, when it was discovered that bats were living in these posts, SPNI sent a team of researchers, led by Dr. Eran Levin, to survey the posts and the bats. Our team found that the bats were crowded into the posts and had difficulty clinging to the smooth concrete or tin ceilings. SPNI, in cooperation with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, Tel Aviv University and with the assistance of the IDF Jordan Valley Brigade, retrofitted the ceilings with holds and rougher surfaces and hung cables, ropes and chains to make the bunkers more habitable for the bats. ‫‏‬Over the years, the abandoned posts have become the homes of at least 12 species of bats, with thousands of bats living in them. A live video feed runs in one of the abandoned posts, the world's first live continuous footage within a bat roost. At present it streams to one location, but SPNI hopes to make it available via the internet to serve as a source for further academic research into bat habits and hibernation activities. ‫‏‬Maintaining the posts has been part of a larger SPNI effort to restore the bat population in Israel. Bats serve as an organic pest control and are capable of eating several hundred insects an hour, feeding on mosquitos, cockroaches, moths and other agricultural pests. Therefore, bats reduce the need for hazardous pesticides that damage the environment and water supplies. The use of pesticides is also expensive for farmers and the proliferation of bats can save the agriculture industry millions of shekels. ‫‏‬SPNI wishes to prevent any further destruction of these abandoned military posts which could threaten the survival of many bat species in Israel. At present, there is a freeze on further demolition, pending discussion and cooperation between the Jewish National Fund, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, SPNI and the Ministry of Defense.

Special thanks to Drew Alyeshmerni and Noah Tankin for their dedication to SPNI and contribution to this newsletter.

SPNI Newsletter Editor: Danielle Berkowitz danielleb@spni.org.il Graphics: www.studiohadag.com Photos: Meidad Goren, (Ramat HaNegev Birding Center), Amir Balaban Dr. Nadine Mansel, (Konrad Adenauer Stiftung), Dikla BenYaakov, Eran Levine


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

SPNI Around the World ASPNI A ‫ ‏‬SPNI was excited to launch its first online, crowd-funding campaign. In honor of SPNI's 60th Anniversary, ASPNI plans to raise $18,000 in 60 days. The crowd-funding campaign offers rewards for all levels of donation. The campaign will run through late September. To contribute, visit the campaign page at WeDid.It/campaigns/423

CSPNI ‫ ‏‬CSPNI hosted two events in June as part of their launch campaign to grow the CSPNI network. ‫‏‬On June 19, Dr. Naomi Himmel graciously hosted fifty people at her home in Toronto, where Uri Goldflam, Director of Resource Development, gave a short presentation on the importance of natural Israel to global biodiversity. This engaging event brought new members and interest to CSPNI. ‫‏‬On June 26, over 120 guests joined Professor Yossi Leshem, former CEO of SPNI, at Toronto's downtown Public Library. Prof. Leshem spoke about the Israeli flyway, raising awareness of the work SPNI does to protect the 500 million birds that fly over Israeli skies during the annual winter migration. The audience was delighted to learn what a significant portion of the global bird population stops in Israel, and is able to propagate and multiply with the help of SPNI.

SPNI – France ‫‏‬SPNI staff members in Israel were thrilled to welcome Albert Elkaim, Vice President of Les Amis de la Terre d'Israel (SPNI France), at the SPNI "Little Eden" Community Garden in Bat Yam. On August 6th, Mr. Elkaim joined a few of our staff, and our summer intern visiting from Paris, for a lovely afternoon in the garden. Mr. Elkaim was impressed to see how involved the children, and their parents, were in maintaining and growing the various crops. We were honored that Mr. Elkaim renewed his commitment to the garden, allowing it to continue to flourish. We look forward to future visits from our friends all over the world.

UKSPNI The North Western Reform Synagogue in London hosted a successful fundraising event for UKSPNI in conjunction with their annual end of term Music Society concert. A great deal of interest was shown in our work, with the audience asking some challenging questions. We are excited about growing our fundraising efforts in the United Kingdom and look forward to raising awareness of SPNI's important work in Israel throughout the UK.

Dear friends, As the new Marketing & Communications Coordinator I feel privileged to present you with this newsletter. I look forward to connecting with you online, around the world and here in Israel. I feel truly blessed to be part of SPNI. May your new year be filled with blessings! Danielle Berkowitz Marketing & Communications Resource Development & Foreign Relations danielleb@spni.org.il

Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel 2 HaNegev Street, Tel Aviv 66186, ISRAEL Tel: +972-3-638-8653 Fax: +972-3-639-0580 Website: www.natureisrael.org Email: international@spni.org.il Kosha (Moshe) Pakman, Executive Director Uri Goldflam, Director, Resource Development and Foreign Relations The American Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel 28 Arrandale Avenue, Great Neck, NY 11024, USA Tel: 1 (800) 411-0966 Email: aspni@aol.com Russel Rothman & Leon Sokol, Co-Chairs Robin Gordon, ASPNI Director The Canadian Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel 25 Imperial St., Suite 200 Toronto, Ontario M5P 1B9, Canada Tel: 1 (647) 346-0619 Email: spnicanada@gmail.com Allan Shiff, CSPNI President Avi Sadiv, CSPNI Coordinator Les Amis de la Terre d’Israel 14 Rue Angelique Verien Neuilly 92200, France ‫‏‬Tel: +33 1 4637 5543 Email: irl@club-internet.fr Norbert Lipszyc, SPNI France Director SPNI United Kingdom PO Box 67678 London, NW11 1LD Tel: +44 207 048 6057 Email: UKSPNI@spni.org.il Michael Green & John Levy, SPNI UK Trustees

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Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel - Fall 2013