Exciting fact about Israel’s land use, as the world experiences massive deforestation: Israel is the only country in the world to have a net gain of trees in the last 100 years.
This is thanks to a non-profit and visionary non-governmental organization, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) — or Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael — set up in 1901 in Israel to develop the land.
Under Ottoman rule at the time, Israel was neglected and considered a backwater state infested with malaria. There was a genuine need for a long-term plan to turn things around.
Using donations from generations of Jews in the Diaspora, some 240 million trees have been planted in Israel by JNF over the last 11 decades, including a few by the Kennedys.
But its focus is no longer just on greening the desert. The JNF has helped build some 180 dams and water reservoirs and has established about 1,000 parks, some of which feature hiking trails around water. Some of its flagship rehabilitation projects include cleaning up the polluted Alexander River.
At the recent water technology conference in Tel Aviv, WATEC, the JNF showcased its expertise and exportable knowledge in water for countries experiencing similar conditions as Israel.
By dealing with desertification and water scarcity for the past few decades, the JNF has acquired ample experience knowing where the rain flows, which trees can withstand water stress, and how to make non-arable land better suited for people and agriculture.
Read more at ISRAEL21C.