Nature-lovers can now find out exactly where Israel's rarest and most unusual plants are located and what threats they face.
The second volume of "The Red Book - Plants in Danger of Extinction in Israel," published this week by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, provides for the first time a full and detailed list of Israel's 36 "red spots," marking the location of the highest concentrations of endangered species.
The book - compiled by a team of experts headed by Dr. Gadi Pollak, Prof. Avi Shmida and Dr. Uri Pergaman-Sapir - will serve as a basis for setting a wild plants' protection policy.
"The book will not serve only nature-preservation organizations," Shmida said. "It will enable contractors and real estate developers to know where there are important natural values and plan projects accordingly, without causing damage."
In Israel, 414 plant species are in danger of extinction, but only 16 percent are protected by law. By contrast, more than two-thirds of the protected plant species face no threats of extinction.
The endangered species consist of 56 plants that are unique to Israel and areas bordering it.
"We hope this publication will pave the way to protecting more species by law," said Pergaman-Sapir.
Since 93 percent of Israel's indigenous plants are pollinated by insects, according to the book, it will also be necessary to protect many insect species.
The book provides a list of 36 "red spots" around the country. These spots are especially close to each other in the coastal plain were population and infrastructure density have damaged the habitats of plants.
The region's unique characteristics is another reason for the high concentration of unique flora. For example, experts say the loess and gravel soil on the coastal plain exist only in Israel. Because of widespread construction and infrastructure development in this region, INPA could only declare small nature reserves, known as "pot plant reserves", in it.
In the heart of the coastal plain, near Netanya and its whereabouts, "red spots" include numerous species such as the Iris atropurpurea and an extremely rare plant called Xolantha guttata. But plans for massive construction of new neighborhoods and roads in this region threaten plants in these spots, located in the Dora Pond reserve in Netanya and Ilanot forest east of the city.
The scientists and Israeli plant-lovers have not exhausted the area's plants. Flower-lover Shir Vered has recently discovered a new species that scientists were not familiar with in Netanya's famous "Sergeants Forest." The new plant has been aptly named "Netanya bellflower."
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