Summer in Israel is synonymous with school vacation, beach days, and, unfortunately, forest fires. Virtually every time the rainy season in the Jewish state ends, the land is plagued with brush fires that ravage its wooded countryside. The blazes are almost always the result of arson committed by Arab terrorists, though it is extremely difficult to catch the suspects in the act.
The usual solution has been to replant the same pine trees and hope that the arsonists will simply stop setting entire forests ablaze. Sadly, that technique hasn’t worked over the past few decades, leaving organizations like the Jewish National Fund (JNF) with no viable solution to preventing the next wave of forest fires.
Since the founding of JNF in 1901, the iconic Jewish organization has been bringing the desert to life by planting trees. But they primarily planted pine trees, a highly flammable species.
Seeking innovative solutions, a different organization, Israel365, is working to replant forests in a way that will be more resistant to arsonists in the future.
The Shoresh forest, a particularly lush area outside of Jerusalem, is a favorite target of arsonists. Two particularly devastating fires occurred in 1995 and, more recently, in 2021. Seeking new solutions, the Shoresh municipality has partnered with Israel365 to replant the forest with olive trees. Olive trees are far less flammable than pine trees and also provide olives, a potential boon to the local economy.
Shoresh and Israel365 will plant over 1,000 trees before the Jewish ‘New Year of Trees’ holiday of Tu B’shvat “to ensure there’s enough rain for the trees,” explained Shoresh chairman Sasson Katan.
In addition to planting other species of trees, Katan also intends to install a hi-tech drip irrigation system designed to minimize their likelihood of burning.
“Every tree will be protected with a green iron net so that animals won’t be able to eat the trees,” Katan added. “It is a real project. Planting is only one step.”
“Never has something like this happened in Israel before,” Katan said excitedly.
The plan to execute this project is in place with volunteers on standby. At this point, the only thing standing in their way is funding.
Can you help be among the first to replenish a forest in Israel in a way that minimizes its risk of being decimated by yet another forest fire?
Please consider donating to the Israel365 Shoresh Forest fund today.