There are many nature reserves, national parks and historical sites located all over Israel. There are three principal management groups
- Israel Nature and Parks Authority (good info on nature reserves)
- Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel – SPNI (Hebrew)
- Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael – KKL (Hebrew) or Jewish National Fund – JNF (English)
Israel Nature and Parks Authority – overview
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority manages the nature reserves and national parks not only in Israel, but also in the Golan Heights and parts of the West Bank.
The Israel Parks and Nature Authority was established in 1998 as a unification of two separate entitles: the National Parks Authority and the Nature Reserves Authority. Both of these entities had managed nature reserves and national parks since 1964.
The organization’s symbol is the ibex, a mountain goat similar to an antelope. The main mission of this organization is to enforce the country’s wildlife protection laws.
The Israel Parks and Nature Authority manages and oversees about 66 nature parks and 190 nature reserves, covering approximately 20% of the country’s land mass. All nature parks and nature reserves are divided into six regions:
- Golan Heights, Sea of Galilee and Galilee
- Lower Galilee and its valleys
- Mount Carmel, the coast and central Israel
- Judean Desert and the Dead Sea
- The Negev
- Eliat and the Arava
Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel – overview
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) is Israel’s largest and oldest existing non-profit conservation organization. It that to preserve the flora and fauna that represent bio-diversity in Israel by monitoring and protecting its habitat — including the land and the water they need to survive.
SPNI was founded in 1953 by a small group of teachers, scientists and environmentalists in response to the government’s plans to drain the Hula Valley (Hula Wetlands). The government did drain the valley to keep mosquitos from thriving, thus preventing the spread of malaria, as well as to prepare the land for agriculture. But 40 years later, the government finally acknowledged the validity of the protesters’ claims and allowed 10% of the Hula swamps to be re-flooded in the early 1990s.
Each year, thousands of SPNI members and participants engage in the organization’s myriad of activities, including sponsoring hikes and holding nature and orienteering courses. It is also active in several environmental and political efforts.
Among its activities include:
- Campaigns to stop experimental oil drilling in the Golan Heights
- Protecting six nature reserves in the Negev from the destructive and disastrous proposed plans to build a railway to Eilat.
- Campaigns for responsible fishing
- Protecting Israel’s ecosystems
- Promoting sustainable planning
- Bringing water issues in Israel to national focus
- Marine environment
- Bird life
- Mammal conservation
- Environmental protection
- Environmental education
- Bringing local communities together towards shared environmental goals
Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (Jewish National Fund) – overview
The Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (also known as the Jewish National Fund) is another non-profit environmental organization and a United Nations NGO, which, according to its website, “gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.”
It undertakes projects on afforestation and land rehabilitation in denuded and degraded areas, invests resources in environmental and ecological programs to fight against desertification and restore degraded land. It also works to develop agroforestry and proper management of grazing lands. It collaborates with the International Arid Lands Consortium to develop and promote strategies for the sustainable development in arid desert regions.
The Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael was founded in 1901 by the fifth Zionist Congress at Basle to buy and develop land in Ottoman Palestine (later the British Mandate-era Palestine and subsequently Israel and the Palestinian territories) for Jewish settlement. By 2007, it owned 13% of Israel’s land. Since its inception, the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael has planted around 240 million trees, built 180 dams and reservoirs, developed 250,000 acres of land and opened over a thousand natural parks in the country.