While Israel’s environmentalists have successfully pushed through the establishment of a number of national parks in recent years, they’ve been less successful at protecting green spaces that aren’t parks. Yet the preservation of pristine areas between urban areas is vital if Israel’s landscape and wildlife are to survive. In today’s Ha’aretz (Hebrew edition), Tzafrir Rinat reports on how these areas are being encroached on by settlements and farms, and cut in pieces by new roadways. He writes:
Last month the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel published a report on the threat to open spaces in Israel. The report lists 60 building and development plans that will damage open spaces. Among the most prominent are new roads in the Sharon and Modi’in areas, construction in the Ramon Crater, and the mining of phosphates in the Negev.
As I noted in my post Why Israel is Losing Its Green Spaces: The Pointed Roof Hypothesis, living in the country has become something of an Israeli middle-class dream. Add to that the mystical-nationalist aura surrounding settlement in Israel and the result is that the country’s open spaces are under a double threat.
Israel has more than enough cities and towns-and more than enough suburban communities and farms. Future residential construction must be confined to existing urban centers. Roads and railways are important in order to tie the country’s disadvantaged and forgotten periphery to its center, but they must be planned in ways that minimize their damage to habitants and landscapes. And they must be kept to a minimum-impossible if new settlements kept getting built, each with its own access road.