Kids Transplant Protected Plants From Area Slated for Development

The country's development plan for the roads around the Hamovil Junction in the North and Road 77 threatened protected trees and flowers growing there. In recent weeks, rangers from the Israel Parks and Nature Authority (IPNA) and the Jewish National Fund (JNF) moved some 50 ancient oak trees from the area, and followed up last weekend with a rescue operation for other protected plants as well, including anemones and wild marjoram.

With the most recent effort, the rangers received help from the children of the environmental club the IPNA runs in the Lower Galilee village of Rumat al-Heib (Arab Alhib), in cooperation with the Al Batuf Regional Council, as part of its Kesher (connection) project.

Over 40 club members, from grades 4 to 7, lent a hand in the undertaking. While they worked, the children were briefed by IPNA rangers and counselors about the protected plants, as well as on the importance of the preservation efforts. The children worked energetically and transplanted some 400 plants to the nearby monument to fallen Bedouin soldiers.

The regional council's youth coordinator, Shadi Hib, related that the children and teenagers did the job very enthusiastically. "You see young guys showing great interest in plants and for them it's a unique and even, exciting project." He added that for many of them, the new home of the plants was meaningful because the monument contains the names of "the grandfathers or relatives of these same children who fell in Israel's wars."

The Kesher Hameshutaf ("shared connection") project, which has been operating for about six months, is intended to promote love and knowledge of nature. Each group works together with an IPNA counselor and the youth coordinator of Rumat al-Heib. "Sometimes the area designated for development cannot be saved, in which case it's important to work to save the flora by relocating it to protected areas," said the director of the IPNA's education department, Salman Abu-Rukhun.

He added: "I'm glad that the children involved in this important project had a chance to work in and experience nature preservation in practice, because we believe that this is the best possible way to educate them to protect nature: by making a connection between them and the nature reserves, the national parks and the flora and fauna found in their immediate surroundings. I'm convinced that each of the children who helped us will from now on be able to explain why it's important to protect the wildflowers and not pick them, to stay on the trails, and if there are development plans, to work to preserve the flora and fauna for future generations." The INPA also noted that the weekend effort had not sufficed to save all the plants in the area. Asaf Dori, who directs the IPNA's Lower Galilee and Valley region education and information center, explained that, "undoubtedly we need more groups to work in the area to save the plants before work on expanding the junction starts."