The Jewish National Fund will reconsider a plan to forest parts of the Arava desert, following the request of environmental organizations to consider the impact of trying to alter the native ecosystem.

Environmental groups have frequently voiced concerns that attempt by the Jewish National Fund to plant trees and conduct drainage projects in the desert disregard the need to conserve the region’s desert landscape.

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The latest JNF plan would plant acacia trees and lay down parking lots, roads, and observation locations across 56,000 acres in the Arava, and would implant drainage systems.

While environmental groups say the area needs protecting, the JNF said its plans were meant to do just that, while making nature more accessible to Israelis.

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Malkah Fleisher is a graduate of Cardozo Law School in New York City. She is an editor/staff writer at JewishPress.com and co-hosts a weekly Israeli FM radio show. Malkah lives with her husband and two children on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.