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January 30, 2015 / 10 Shevat, 5775
 
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Forester-For-A-Day: KKL-JNF Involves Citizens in Maintaining Israeli Forests


Forester-For-A-Day

Photo Credit: KKL-JNF

KKL-JNF’s ( Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael- Jewish National Fund) “Forester For a Day” program is a new ecological initiative that offers visitors a unique opportunity to assist in maintaining Israel’s forests, prevent forest fires and promote an overall atmosphere of environmental awareness.

The KKL-JNF owns 13 percent of the land in Israel, and has planted 240 million trees and establish more than 1,000 parks. Building on KKL-JNF’s  hugely successful flagship tree-planting project, the “Forester-For-A-Day” program lets participants connect with the soil of Israel in a very personal way.

Participants work side-by-side with KKL-JNF foresters to prune trees, prepare forest paths and fire breaks, and clear underbrush. The program is tailored to groups only (15-100 participants), and is available in English, French, German, and Spanish. Spread out in four locations across the country – Birya forest in the Golan, Carmel forest  in the Galillee, Ben Shemen forest in the Center, and Lahav forest in the South – the program runs 2-3 hours in its entirety, and provides an opportunity for volunteers of all ages to experience Israel in a unique way and make a direct contribute to its preservation.

The cost is $18 per person, and participants receive a bottle of water, KKL-JNF hat and pin, certificate of appreciation after their work is completed.

The Jewish Press sat down with Revital Ovadia, Coordinator of Forester-For-A-Day, to find out more about the program.

The Jewish Press (JP): How did the Forester-For-A-Day program get started?

Revital Ovadia (RO): Unfortunately, it was a tragedy – the Carmel Forest fire in December 2010 – that inspired the program. But we decided to take a tragedy and bring something positive out of it.

What has been the feedback? Have many people have participated in the program?

As of today – which is only a year into the program’s implementation – there have been hundreds of participants: bar and bat mitzvah parties, groups wanting to get involved, as well as workplace and family events.

The feedback has been great. The best indication of its success is the fact that when the Israeli public heard about the program – which was tailored specifically for non-Israelis – many requested to participate in it. And so we opened it up to Israeli participation as well!

Has the program had an effect yet on the environment? Has it helped with the rehabilitation after the Carmel fire?

The Carmel Forest has been rehabilitating at an impressive rate, thanks in  part to the program, as well as all the volunteers who came to help KKL-JNF after the fire.

Still, we are not permitted to plant new trees until next year – in order to let the soil regenerate. So we are looking forward to returning to planting trees and intensifying the Carmel Forest’s rehabilitation.

What are some other programs people can get involved with KKL-JNF?

KKL-JNF has a wide range of programs and activities, including bicycle and hiking trails in Israel’s forests and in the parks. Groups can also coordinate such activities to precede or follow the Forester-For-A-Day program.

For more information on the campaign, contact Revital Ovadia at KKL-JNF revio@kkl.org.il.

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