April 27, 2010
Wildlife preservationists fight expansion, seek to bring back animals of the bible
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That lighthouse is used to convince the general public that conservation is just as important as building.
“Today is a very interesting time, when the country is being divided into two growing camps — a camp of the developers and the camp of the green movement,” Shkedy said. “Both of them are now gaining momentum, and there is a huge fight. You can see the debate on the new law for the development, where the government wants to move and decimate the abilities of the green parties to influence the different committees. It’s a strong debate. Now the question is, who’s going to win?”
Some nature lovers fear that, with the country’s growth rate hovering around 2.5 percent a year, it won’t be long before most of the natural land is taken over for development.
“I’m very, very connected to nature, everything around my town is nature,” said Roee Arad, an INNPPA park ranger. “If my organization doesn’t do its job properly, in a few years my kids won’t have something to see — no animals or nature. It’s very important for people to stand and fight for nature.”
The situation becomes even more difficult for conservationists in Israel because of the size of the country and its small bio-geographical zones. There are four main bio-geographical zones that run through the country, stretching from the desert climate of the East to the Mediterranean climate of the West, and these zones help create the diversity of wildlife in Israel. If builders take out one whole zone, they could wipe out an entire species of plant or animal.
“It is a small country with a very high human population, and is very diverse with different climatic zones, so everything exists in a small space,” Saltz said.
Because of these small bio-geographical zones, conservation in Israel is even more important, Shkedy said, adding that the country contains four major climate zones.
Shkedy argued that during a global warming period, a place like Israel is vital to sustain life, because, as the Earth warms, climate zones change. In Israel, because the different zones are so close together, plants and animals can slowly shift zones without becoming extinct.
Saltz sees more urgent arguments for alarm: “The rate they are building this country, I’m not sure that is possible,” he said in response to Shkedy’s theory. “It is very hypothetical.”
The tug-of-war between those who want to see the animals of the Bible return to the wild in Israel, and those who care only about expansion and building so more can live comfortably in the region is far from over.
“It’s a fact of life, it’s a never-ending war; sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” Saltz said. “There are actions on all fronts on this — trying to declare more reserves, increasing the ability of protecting endangered species, securing corridors — but the situation over here is far, far more complicated and far from over.”
Kevin Patra is a master’s degree candidate in online journalism at USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. He is co-founder of the sports commentary Web site thesportsunion.com.
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