The Promised Land Managers
In a victory for environmentalists, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled last week that the Jewish National Fund, well known around the world for its tree-planting efforts in Israel, must now submit its forestry plans for public review. The ruling came on a petition filed by the Israel Union for Environmental Defense. The enviro group charged that the fund has managed forested public lands as if they were private holdings, damaged native landscapes, and, at times, threatened water resources by using pesticides, bulldozers, and controlled burns to clear lands. The group also claimed that the fund’s policy of planting mostly single-species forests has left the trees vulnerable to disease and fire. Yehiel Leket, the fund’s chair, rejected the accusations. He noted that the court did not rule on the fund’s forestry practices, but only required that the fund make its plans public.