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Travel author, guide, botanist and archeologist Micha "Mike" Livneh died yesterday at his home in Kibbutz Maayan Baruch at age 79. Livneh was well-known among Israeli nature lovers and one of the pre-eminent explorers of the Galilee, Golan Heights and Mount Hermon. He was also among the discoverers of the northern palace at Masada.

The committee that had honored with a special award form the Upper Galilee Regional Council, noted that Livneh "has greatly influenced environmental and nature issues in the Galilee, and has instilled the value of nature in generations of travelers and guides, both through locating and charting treks and by writing and editing books on the land."

Livneh was born in Germany and immigrated with his parents to Jerusalem when he was 18 months old. He moved to Maayan Baruch in the 1950s where he became widely identified with the Galilee landscapes, archeology, botany and travel. He was especially known for his connection to the Hermon, where he traveled extensively and recently discovered the a new species of the iris flower, which he called the Cherry Iris.

"There was no one to match him in knowledge of the Hermon," said Erez Kama, director of field study centers at the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. "Mike was a field teacher. He was able to impart not only his vast theoretical knowledge, but also the practice in the field - all modestly, quietly and without any condescension." Livneh wrote many books and guides, and he edited the society's magazine. He continued guiding groups until quite recently.