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Bringing Israelís Freshwater Streams Back to Life: KKL-JNFís Sustainable Development Policy

Background

 

As the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael - Jewish National Fund (hereinafter: the KKL-JNF) sees Israelís freshwater streams as a natural and scenic treasure and a vital social, tourism, historical, spiritual, and ecological resource, it will continue, together with its historic partners, to do everything in its power to rehabilitate the streams.  The KKL-JNF seeks to restore Israel ís streams for the publicís benefit and enjoyment, as well as to protect nature. The KKL-JNF sees freshwater stream rehabilitation as a national initiative and a historic project as part of its ongoing mission of redeeming the Land of Israel .

Israel ís freshwater streams have always constituted an integral part of Israel ís cultural landscape, and their rehabilitation is a modern-day expression of the mission of redeeming the Land.  Freshwater streams are sites for activities such as swimming, fishing, sailing, hiking, recreation, and a quiet place for prayer and contemplation. The KKL-JNF will strive to meet the diverse demands of the public, as well as to improve the streamsí physical, hydrological, and ecological functioning.

Each stream has its own character and properties. As such, stream rehabilitation must be founded on a detailed master plan that gives expression to each streamís special character and physical environment, containing its ecosystem and the needs of local residents.  At the same time, there are fundamental, unifying principles that characterize all KKL-JNF rehabilitation activities.

Freshwater streams should represent a window into Israel ís recent and ancient past, and rehabilitation activity must add to the transparency of that window to the historical landscape that it reflects. According to the philosophy that has emerged over the years, the objective of freshwater stream rehabilitation is not to replicate the streamsí primeval characteristics, but rather to enable their ecosystems to recover and transform them into balanced, yet dynamic entities aided by natural processes.

Those same freshwater streams that lie in the heart of Israel ís crowded center obligate the KKL-JNF to personal and community involvement in their ongoing planning and management. The KKL-JNF sees the streamsí environments as total and complex ecosystems, the balance between whose components must be preserved. Israel ís freshwater streams play an important role as buffer zones between urban blocs, and they make an important contribution to shaping the relationship between Israel ís open spaces and built-up zones. Therefore their rehabilitation must improve, and subsequently preserve and maintain this delicate relationship. Furthermore, streams play a vital and central role in the drainage of floodwaters. Therefore, their rehabilitation must combine all of the above-stated functions in planning and implementation.

The rehabilitation of Israel ís freshwater stream requires the preservation of their Mediterranean character, manifested in the abundance of water in the winter (flooding) and the gradual lessening of water during the dry season. This seasonal hydrological model is the foundation for the unique biological dynamic of freshwater streams in our region. The creek bed is accompanied by the unique properties of the land, which is also an integral part of the streamís ecosystem.

The stream rehabilitation process is a prolonged on, stretching over years, and its success depends upon a combination of activities and pollution prevention measure  along its drainage basin. Furthermore, it is a process that crosses borders and requires the addressing of  pollution sources along the entire drainage path, including some lying in jurisdictions that are not under Israel ís administration or sovereignty.  The KKL-JNF will take on part of these activities as per its budgetary and professional capacity, including improving water quality.

The Israel Stream Authority was established in 1985 to adva nce cooperation between various bodies whose objective is to bring about the successful restoration of Israel ís freshwater streams. As an organization with professional expertise and operational capabilities at its disposal, that is prepared to lead the national rehabilitation effort and cooperate with all parties involved, the KKL-JNF remains committed to joint activity with government agencies, local governments, public interest groups, scientists, and private partners to adva nce stream rehabilitation.

As such, a distinction must be drawn between rehabilitation of year-round streams, whose clean water flow must be restored, and seasonal streams, wherein rehabilitation must focus on natural systems. Despite the fact that seasonal streams differ in character from perennial streams, many of the KKL-JNFís stream rehabilitation principles apply equally to seasonal streams.

 

The KKL-JNFís freshwater stream restoration policy is founded on the four cornerstones of sustainable development: ecology, economics, social welfare, and inter-generational responsibility. These will be addressed as follows.

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