State of Israel Ministry of the Environment

ENVIRONMENT BULLETIN
Ministry of the Environment

January

2005

volume 28

Cover Photo: Orit Barneah

Eilat's Fish Farms

6

Biodiversity Conservation

22

www.environment.gov.il

content
Dear Reader:
Shalom Simhon - Minister of the Environment Dr. Miriam Haran: 2004 in Retrospect
Director General, Dr. Miriam Haran, highlights some of the Environment Ministry’s achievements in 2004.

Eilat’s Fish Farms: In? Out?
An in-depth look at the controversy surrounding the floating fish cages in the Gulf of Eilat.

Action Plan for Ramat Hovav
A recent government decision promises to cleanup the Ramat Hovav industrial area.

Fixing a Critical Problem: Used Oil Filters
Cooperation, information and enforcement substantially increase the collection of used oil filters from the country’s garages.

3 3 6 12 16 18 22 32 34 36 37 38

The January 2005 Israel Environment Bulletin is dedicated to the memory of Prof. Yehudith Naot. Volume 28 of the Bulletin is dedicated to the memory of a unique individual, Prof. Yehudith Naot, who served as Minister of the Environment from March 2003 until October 2004. To a very large extent, the achievements described in this Bulletin are her achievements. Throughout her service and despite her illness, Prof. Naot dedicated herself to the cause of the environment with unrelenting energy and courage. May her memory be blessed. In this issue of the Bulletin, we are pleased to present some highlights of our environmental achievements in 2004. Based on the seven overall goals of the Ministry of the Environment, the following pages survey activities in such areas as marine pollution prevention, treatment of life-threatening hotspots, waste management, air pollution monitoring, promotion of a Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, biodiversity conservation and advancement of the ministry ’ s websites for the benefit of the public everywhere. Although our environment bulletins, which are now published twice yearly, survey major environmental activities and policies, this information is supplemented by our English website — www.environment.gov.il/english, which features updated information on a variety of environmental topics. The website will be significantly expanded and updated in 2005 and we hope you will avail yourself of this new service.

Air Quality: Monitoring, Management and Awareness A look at air quality in Israel ≠ past achievements,
future challenges.

Conserving a Wealth of Biodiversity
The country’s experts speak out on different aspects of biodiversity conservation.

Promotion of Animal Welfare
Directing attention at the country’s stray dogs and cats.

Promoting Kyoto’s Clean Development Mechanism
CDM projects in Israel offer attractive investment opportunities.

With a Face to the Public
Demand grows for the Environment Ministry’s Arabic website.

Environmental Legislation
Israel enacts a revolutionary Law for the Protection of the Coastal Environment.

Environmental Enforcement
Strict enforcement of environmental laws is leading to high rates of convictions and higher fines in Israel’s courts.

Cover photo: Orit Barneah Back Cover photo: Oz Golan Small photos: Ministry of the Environment, Ramat Hovav Local Industrial Council, Arik Bar-Sade, Pua Bar, Gidi Bettelheim, Oz Goffman, Oz Goren, Oz Golan, Ilan Malester, Galia Pasternak, Motti Sela, Galia Sterhall, Menachem Zalutzki, Sasson Tiram Design: Studio Billet

Shoshana Gabbay Editor
Inquiries should be addressed to: Israel Environment Bulletin P.O.B. 34033, Jerusalem 95464, Israel Telephone: 972-2-6553777, Fax: 972-2-6535934 http://www.environment.gov.il/english E-mail: shoshana@environment.gov.il Mr. Shalom Simhon, Minister of the Environment Dr. Miriam Haran, Director General

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Shalom Simhon: Minister of the Environment

2004 In Retrospect
Looking back over the past year, I can definitely say that we have witnessed a period of major environmental successes. This is true in the legislative realm, in national planning, and in government decisions, and of course in our own activities on behalf of the environment. Decisions with Impacts on Quality of Life and the Environment On the legislative front, we have seen the enactment of the Law for the Protection of the Coastal Environment and the promulgation of several regulations - on sludge usage, limits on salt concentrations and pH values in industrial sewage, implementation of the Montreal Protocol and environmental impact assessment. In addition, our legislative successes have been accompanied by major successes in court cases that we conduct against environmental offenders. The conviction rate in these cases has been close to 100% over the past several years, and even more importantly, fine levels have risen dramatically. Quite an impressive legislative and legal record. On the planning front, we have witnessed a number of successes which should make a real impact on the environment in Israel. Two recent examples come to mind. Firstly, the National Planning and Building Board has recently reiterated its previous decision to remove the fish cages, which have been targeted as the major anthropogenic source of nutrients, from the Gulf of Eilat. Secondly, a subcommittee of the National Board has unanimously approved a statutory plan to protect an 800hectare area as an open park ≠ the Ayalon Park - in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. On the executive front, the government decided to prepare a sustainable development strategy for the country, and in 2004 we were able to present the first report on the implementation of this government decision. Notably, some of the economic ministries have already presented those activities that are based on sustainable development considerations - whether taxing polluting fuels or encouraging alternative energy. In yet another

Dr. Miriam Haran:

www.environment.gov.il

Staffers at the Ministry of the Environment welcomed their newest minister, Shalom Simhon, on January 12, 2005. Immediately upon his arrival at the ministry, Environment Minister Simhon expressed his delight at the appointment and his commitment to the environmental cause. "Protection of the country’s natural resources is of top priority on Israel’s civil agenda," he said. The new minister affirmed his intent to upgrade both the ministry and the environment on the political agenda. He noted that within the framework of his previous activities, both in the Knesset and in the government, he had occasion to examine a wide range of environmental issues, issues that touch the lives of each and every resident of the country. In his new capacity as Minister of the Environment, he vowed to promote the environmental cause, with the close cooperation of the ministry’s staff and green organizations throughout the country. In his first decision, the minister expressed his opposition to reopening a polluting factory in Acre, Electrochemical Industries Ltd., and called for restoring a clean environment to the residents. Shalom Simhon served as Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development from March 2001 until October 2002. He was first elected to the Knesset in 1996 and served as Chairman of the Economics and Finance Committees as well as member of the Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee and the House Committee.

Decisions taken in 2004 will have a major impact on the quality of our life and our environment

3

From Dr. Miriam Haran
population groups, while robbing them of the open spaces which are their due. Interestingly, this was recognized by David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, when he called for the allocation of accessible open spaces for the benefit of the residents of Tel Aviv, Givatayim and Ramat Gan as way back as the 1950s! To my mind, the conservation and development of the Ayalon Park should be viewed as a national project which impacts on the entire population, and should therefore receive the full support of the government. I hope that we will be able to bring about a government resolution that will support the decision of the sub-committee and obtain the necessary funding for the first stages of planning and establishment of the park. Yet another major breakthrough, which will significantly impact on the quality of life of our population, is the enactment of the Law for the Protection of the Coastal Environment. Although the law that was enacted was different from the one which we initially proposed, which was more revolutionary in content, on a practical level, I am pleased that this law was passed with the full consensus of all stakeholders. The law strengthens the planning guidelines of our coastal masterplan, which also prohibits coastal building, but this time up to 300 meters inland from the Mediterranean shoreline. It also allows for the imposition of fees on facilities that damage the coastal environment and empowers the ministry to issue orders to prevent or remove environmental damages. We hope that the law will give us the tools to treat environmental damages which do not only relate to planning and building — such as sand transport for example - since some of our beaches are already at risk of disappearing, along with the structures and cliffs adjacent to them. One example is in Apollonia in the central part of our coastal plain, whose impressive Crusader fortress is now endangered. We intend to promulgate regulations to prevent and treat these and other kinds of coastal damages. Fish Cages: Conflicting Interests Another important example of rising environmental consciousness is the fish cage controversy. The past year has seen a stormy debate on the subject of Eilat’s floating fish cages, which many claim

A view from the slopes of the Hiriya landfill - at the heart of the Ayalon Park

important decision, the government adopted our action plan for pollution abatement in Ramat Hovav and established a committee to follow up on its implementation. I have no doubt that these decisions will have a major impact on the quality of our life and our environment. Preserving Open Spaces for Public Benefit Let’s take the Ayalon Park as an example. Not too long ago, Israel was a desert country. Our mandate was to build it and settle it. Yet the building and development fever which gripped the country for several decades left few continuous open spaces. As a result, residents of our city centers were deprived of wide-open spaces near their homes. The Ayalon Park is meant to serve hundreds of thousands of residents of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. Yet the proposal to develop this large-scale park in Israel’s densely populated central region elicited major battles between green and social organizations and economic interests. Real estate interests called for the building of high-income residential apartments on some of the park, but fortunately the National Planning and Building Board subcommittee, which deliberated on the issue, decided otherwise. The decision to reject these demands marked not only a victory for the country’s environmental and social interests but for the public itself. For me it was especially gratifying to see our planning agencies opt for the allocation of such large open spaces for a national park. The decision is proof that our decision makers have adopted the principles of sustainable development, taking account of environmental, social and economic considerations. The construction of residential apartments in the park for a high-income social group would have weakened the adjacent communities, which are populated by weaker

The conservation and development of the Ayalon Park should be viewed as a national project

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are responsible for the degradation of the Red Sea’s unique coral reef. The subject, which reached both the courts and the planning system, has received wide and dramatic coverage in the press. Much of the controversy revolved around the report of a team of international scientists, which pointed to the fish cages as the main anthropogenic source of nutrient influx into the Gulf of Eilat, but did not call for the urgent removal of the fish cages from the Gulf waters. Aside from the intrinsic matter itself, which is yet to be resolved by the government, this environmental issue elicited extremely strong public sentiments and emotions. We saw the growing strength of green bodies and their ability to touch the public. The subject reached the front pages of newspapers and was a top item on television and radio programs. This by itself is a major success. An Outline of Achievements While I chose to concentrate on only a few of our major successes in 2004, there are many more achievements that are worth noting, even if only in outline form. Important progress has been made in our major pollution hotspots — Haifa Bay and the Kishon River in the north and the Ramat Hovav industrial site in the south. We are getting ready to upgrade our wastewater treatment plants so that they will provide tertiary treatment and allow for the full reuse of the country’s treated wastewater. Our dairy farm reforms have met with major success as hundreds of farms have implemented Environment Ministry guidelines for environmental improvement. The sulfur content in our diesel fuel has been reduced to 50 ppm and leaded gasoline is no longer available in our gas stations. Substantial tax reductions were approved for the purchase of low-pollution vehicles such as liquefied petroleum gas vehicles and hybrid vehicles. The Electricity Authority has decided to encourage energy production from renewable sources by determining tariffs that take account of the costs of pollution emissions. Our air monitoring network will soon b e c o m p l e m e n t e d b y a n a i r r e s o u rc e s management system. A recently formulated risk management program should help prevent risks from industrial sources and minimize their impact on the public and the environment. And perhaps, most importantly, we have significantly upgraded our education and information capabilities, largely by means of internet sites in Hebrew, English, and
Photos: Ilan Malester, Gidi Bettelheim

Arabic, as well as a children-oriented website, so that today environmental awareness is higher than ever before. Future Challenges We are heartened by the progress which has already been made, but are determined to do more. Our challenge for next year is to bring about a real change in the attitudes and behavior of all sectors of the population - decision-makers, legislators, judges, industrialists, professionals, and, of course, the general public. We are committed to dramatically increasing public awareness about the environment and the need to protect it. One of our priorities will be in the realm of cleanliness. We will tackle this problem on all fronts — through stringent enforcement, promotion of solutions, including biological treatment, for different types of wastes such as waste tires and construction waste, and measures to change public behavior and raise the level of personal responsibility of every member of the public toward cleanliness in the public domain. Millions of visitors flock to our nature reserves, parks and forests on weekends and holidays. I hope that we will reach the point where every person will truly care and take responsibility for the environment outside his home.

Our challenge is to bring about a real change in the attitudes and behavior of all sectors of the population

www.environment.gov.il

In Memory of Prof. Yehudith Naot And finally, I cannot possibly end this retrospective without paying tribute to a unique woman, Prof. Yehudith Naot, our former Minister of the Environment, who passed away in December 2004. Despite her continuous struggle with a terrible illness, Prof. Naot ran the ministry with courage and dedication and remained fully involved with each of the subjects mentioned above. There is no question that this year ’ s achievements, are hers. She left an indelible mark on the Ministry of the Environment and on the environmental scene in Israel.

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Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers
Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Eilat's fish farms:

Treating lifethreatening hotspots

IN? OUT?
Environmentalists and planners alike call for the removal of the floating fish cages from the Gulf of Eilat
To remove or not to remove - that is the question. Should Eilat’s floating fish cages remain in the Red Sea waters or should they be removed to land? This question has elicited major - and heated - public debates in Israel over the past five years, reaching a peak in recent months. At the center of the controversy is Eilat’s coral reef, once one of world’s most beautiful and biologically diverse coral reefs, today facing major degradation. Despite intensive efforts to reduce pollutants, a marked deterioration in water clarity and quality in the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba has been noted in recent years. Coral reefs have been plagued by lost diversity, decrease in coral cover, low rates of coral-larval settlement and recruitment, decreased rates of coral reef calcification, coral mortality, and intense macro-algal blooms during spring. Findings show that in 1996, about 70% of the corals in the Eilat area were alive and 30% dead; in 2001, the situation was reversed with only 30% live corals and 70% dead. So who is Really to Blame? Israel has long been aware of the need to protect its national treasure in Eilat. This has led to motley initiatives - a marine pollution prevention station was set up and reinforced, the Eilat municipality began to treat its wastewater, the dispersal of phosphate dust was stopped, even scuba diving was limited - and even prohibited - in some vulnerable areas. Yet, despite these activities, deterioration continued. So, who is responsible for the reef’s deterioration? The possibility that two commercial fish farms,
The fish cages: through fish eyes Photo: Marine and Coastal Environment Division

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Reducing air pollution from transportation and industrial sources

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Catalyzing economic growth and national interests through sustainable development

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

Sources of Pollution in the Gulf of Eilat tons of nitrogen/year
3 1

250

marina (stopped in 2003)

sewage

fish cages

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Source: Ministry of the Environment

ISRAEL ENVIRONMENT BULLETIN. January 2005

35

tons

Crude Oil Pollution
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located close to the Jordanian-Israeli border at the northern tip of the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba, are to blame for the degradation has sparked major public debate. The fish companies, which have been operating without a permit and breed some five million fish a year in cages, obviously deny any connection between the decline in biodiversity and their operations. The Ministry of the Environment, environmental NGOs and numerous marine scientists think otherwise. They point out that the

30 25 20 15 10 5
1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1975 1976
1 1 1 18 13 11 11

1996 1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

Y. Schlesinger, 1980, Nature & Parks Authority and Ministry of the Environment

2002

0

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3000 2500
2000 2450 2300 2600

tons

Fish Cage Growth in the Gulf of Eilat
2700

2000 1500 1000 500
30 30 80 100 200 300 450 700 834 1236

1620

1988

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

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1996

1997

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Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Agriculture

Scuba Dives in Eilat
300,000
250.000

250,000 200,000 150,000
number of dives
100,000 75,000 50,000 50,000

100,000 50,000 0
1997

2000

2001

2002

2003

large-scale degradation can be traced back to 1993, when the fish companies started mass production, gradually increasing the yield from 300 tons per year to well over 2,000 tons per year. Both groups agree that more research will be needed to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the fish cages are responsible for the deterioration, but the second group has long contended that Israel cannot possibly sit back until a clear answer is found. By then, the coral reef may well disappear. As the largest single source of nutrient loading in Eilat’s waters, the fish cages must be removed from the Gulf water.

Nature & Parks Authority

Sewage Pollution
3,000,000
2,555,000

2,500,000 2,000,000 1,500,000
cubic meters

1,000,000 500,000 0
25,000 8,000 12,000 2,000 750 1,000 1,100

1994

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Ministry of the Environment and Municipality of Eilat

2003

0

2003

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Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

RANI AMIR: EILAT’S FISH CAGES
Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

What do Scientists Say? In the midst of claims and counterclaims, the Environment Ministry’s opinion has been upheld by numerous marine scientists and by a long line of research studies. • In the 1990s, the Ministries of Agriculture, Environment and National Infrastructures appointed an international expert team (IET) to identify existing and potential sources of pollution, assess the carrying capacity of the Gulf for fish-farming, and formulate recommendations for minimization of pollution and environmental pressures. • In December 2001, the IET presented its scientific report. The team, which considered ten factors contributing to pollution in the Gulf, concluded that there have been multiple stressors on the coral reefs of Eilat over the past 25 years and called for further monitoring and research in order to assess the carrying capacity of the Gulf. Furthermore, it called for the immediate reduction of nitrogen loading by the fish farms by 30%. • In line with the recommendation of the IET, the Ministries of Environment, Agriculture and National Infrastructures commissioned a series of professional research studies to assess the state of pollution in the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba. The program consisted of 14 projects, which were implemented by researchers from the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat (IUI), the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research (IOLR) and the Geological Survey of Israel. The report, presented in July 2004, notes that it is "evident that the main problem in the context of the 'carrying capacity' issue is the impact of nutrient loading from the fish farms," but presents conflicting opinions on the fate of the nutrients

Director, Marine and Coastal Environment Division
There is no room for fish cages in Eilat’s waters The Marine and Coastal Environment Division of the Ministry of the Environment is dedicated to preventing marine pollution from all sources in the Gulf of Eilat. The only source of pollution, which has never been prevented at source, is the fish cages. What’s more, this source has been enlarged and expanded during recent years despite Ministry of the Environment opposition to such a move. Obviously, it is extremely unreasonable that the State of Israel will continue to invest boundless efforts and resources on pollution reduction and prevention, inspection and enforcement in the Gulf, while at the same time, vested interests continue to draw hundreds of millions of shekels in profits at the expense of the exploitation of natural resources which destroys the marine environment. The question of whether the fish cages have damaged the coral reef or whether there is unequivocal proof for such damage is much less relevant than the way it was presented in the public struggle, which was voiced in the media. Simply put: Israeli law prohibits the pollution of the sea. Period. There is no obligation, whatsoever, to prove the degree of the damage which is probably caused. Marine pollution must be stopped. This is certainly true for nutrient quantities which are equivalent to the raw sewage produced by a city of 50,000 residents; it is most certainly so for an especially sensitive and unique ecological system - and there is no controversy surrounding this - such as the Gulf of Eilat. Today, the precautionary principle stands at the basis of advanced environmental theory throughout the globe. Israel’s National Planning and Building Board invoked this principle vis à vis the removal of the fish cages from the water, on three separate occasions! There is room for mariculture on land or in the Mediterranean Sea under certain conditions and limitations. There is no room for fish cages in Eilat’s waters. Fish farming in the Gulf of Eilat must come to an end, the sooner the better.

Treating lifethreatening hotspots

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Reducing air pollution from transportation and industrial sources

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Catalyzing economic growth and national interests through sustainable development

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

8

ISRAEL ENVIRONMENT BULLETIN. January 2005

Eilat's fish Photo: Oz Goren

www.environment.gov.il

emitted by the fish farms. One study concludes that a substantial fraction of the nutrients is retained in the northern Gulf of Eilat while another concludes that the nutrients are mixed into the larger water body of the Gulf. While Dr. Yuval Cohen, Director General of IOLR, notes that the "available data and information does not indicate a significant impact of the fish farms on the nutrient budget of the northern Gulf of Aqaba", Prof. Ottolenghi, Scientific Director of the IUI, notes "that there are several points supporting the suggestion that the fish farms may contribute substantially to the observed accumulation of nutrients in the northern tip of the Gulf". • The September 2002-November 2003 annual report on Israel’s National Monitoring Program for the Gulf of Eilat, carried out by the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat on behalf of the Ministry of the Environment, confirms that

the continuing increase in nutrients and organic matter in the water and the sediments endangers the well-being of the coral reefs in this region. Measurements conducted in 2003 show that "the Gulf is undergoing widespread eutrophication with a multitude of ecological consequences". One of the steps advocated: prevention of nutrient influx to the Gulf from any anthropogenic source known today, and specifically from the fish cages. • In its final report to the Israel government, presented in September 2004, the IET confirms that the "fish farms are the largest anthropogenic nutrient source" in the Gulf of Eilat and recommends to "move fish farming to a landbased system within a clearly defined time period". In the interim, mitigation measures should be taken.

Fish farms are the largest anthropogenic nutrient source in the Gulf of Eilat

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Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Photos: Ilan Malester, Oz Goren

Treating lifethreatening hotspots

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Reducing air pollution from transportation and industrial sources

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Catalyzing economic growth and national interests through sustainable development

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

• Based on existing data, research studies, experiments and direct observation, scientists at the Ministry of the Environment, Nature and Parks Authority and academic institutes in Israel have contended that one of the main reasons for the deterioration of the coral reef in the last decade is nutrient enrichment and that the main source of nutrients originating from anthropogenic sources is the fish cages. Therefore, the removal of the cages from the Gulf waters is a precondition for the survival and rehabilitation of the coral reef. Green Organizations, Planning Agencies and Courts: Remove the Fish Cages from the Gulf of Eilat Why has public controversy on the Eilat fish cage issue reached such a crescendo in recent months? For the simple reason that the government will soon vote on the masterplan for the coast of Eilat- with or without the fish cages. This coastal masterplan constitutes the framework for the

future of Israel’s southernmost city and includes tourism, economic, transportation and environmental aspects. Recognition that the Gulf of Eilat is a national resource and an international treasure of the first degree has led Israel’s top planning agency, the National Planning and Building Board, to approve the Eilat coastal masterplan without designating an area for fish cages in the Gulf waters on three separate occasions - November 2002, June 2003 and November 2004. In fact, both the courts, who have called for the shut down of the fish cages because they are operating without permits, and the country’s planning agencies, have ruled that the fish farms must be taken out of the water. But vested interests have thus far led to repeated delays in government approval of the coastal masterplan for Eilat. Do the fish cages truly harm the biodiversity of the world’s northernmost coral reef ecosystem?

ISRAEL ENVIRONMENT BULLETIN. January 2005

Gulf of Eilat: 2004

The precautionary principle must be implemented - the fish cages must be removed from the Gulf waters

What’s been done to prevent all sources of marine pollution?
Oil spills: A pollution prevention station was established between the reef reserve and the oil terminal. It can deal with spills as large as a few hundred tons from large vessels and marina activities. The Ministry of the Environment invested over $6 million in the station, its equipment and dedicated vessels. As a result of these measures, oil spills have veritably come to a halt. Sewage: Since 1995, the Eilat municipality has stopped discharging its sewage into the Red Sea. Over $15 million have already been invested in sewage treatment and another $6.5 million will be invested over the next two years in upgrading and maintaining Eilat’s sewage treatment system. In addition, seven dischargers of pollution - both direct and indirect - to the sea must comply with stringent conditions specified in discharge permits issued by the Marine and Coastal Environment Division. Municipal marina: Strict enforcement by the Ministry of the Environment has catalyzed the operation of a sewage and bilge water collection system for some 350 private and commercial boats in Eilat. At the same time, the establishment of service facilities in the marina has helped stop marine pollution. About $350,000 were invested in solving the pollution problem from the marina. Phosphate dust: A decade ago, dry chemicals were dropped into ships from an eight-meter height, resulting in a dust cloud, which settled on the surrounding area. Strict enforcement coupled by the installation of technological measures such as the "smart chute", installed in 2002, have reduced the number of pollution episodes to a minimum. Some $1.5 million were invested by the Ports Authority to stop phosphate pollution.

www.environment.gov.il

Should the interests of those making the profits from the fish cages be protected beyond the interests of biodiversity and the public? In its most recent decision, the National Planning and Building Board chose to reiterate its call for the removal of the fish cages from the Gulf waters within a maximum of 14 months- the natural growth cycle of fish. The rationale is clear. We simply cannot wait idly by until conclusive results are in. By the time we find out, it might be too late.

Diving: The Nature and Parks Authority has invested major efforts in restricting scuba and snorkeling activities in sensitive areas and increasing diver education to prevent damage to the coral reefs. Fewer divers coupled with increased awareness have led to a dramatic drop in diver-caused damages. In addition, the Nature and Parks Authority is also promoting the establishment of artificial diving sites. Sand: A coastal development policy prohibits the introduction of sand or the construction of structures, which may create sand concentrations in the sea. As of 1998, the Eilat municipality prohibits fine granule sand padding along the coast. Fishing: Beginning with January 2005, the Fishing Division of the Ministry of Agriculture will shut down the last part of the coral reef, which is still open to fishing. For the past year, fishing licenses in the Gulf of Eilat for anyone not living and working in Eilat have not been renewed or granted. Fishing will be restricted to areas without coral reefs. Fish Farms: While nearly all sources of pollution in the Gulf of Eilat were addressed over the past decade, only the fish farms have continued to operate with impunity. During this time, mariculture has grown by a factor of ten and has been responsible for nutrient loading in the Gulf of Eilat - with annual loads reaching some 250 tons of nitrogen and 45 tons of phosphate.

Acknowledgments: Special thanks to Rani Amir and Alon Zask of the Marine and Coastal Environment Division of the Ministry of the Environment and to David Zakai, Gulf of Eilat Marine Biologist of the Nature and Parks Authority for the information and graphs included in this article.

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Treating life-threatening hotspots

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Action Plan for Ramat Hovav
A November 2004 government decision promises to clean up the industrial park of Ramat Hovav
The Ramat Hovav industrial park is one of the most contaminated industrial areas in Israel. Soil surveys conducted some ten years ago revealed difficult problems of pollutant infiltration to groundwater. In recent years, stench and air pollution have plagued the daily life of the surrounding population. In his 2004 Annual Report, the State Comptroller blasted the local industrial council, which is responsible for the industrial park, for failing to solve critical environmental problems that have adversely impacted both quality of life and the environment in the region. An epidemiological survey on morbidity and mortality in the Negev, which was released by the Ministry of Health in July of 2004, found higher rates of prenatal deaths, respiratory problems and birth defects among Jewish and Bedouin communities in the surrounding area. In response to a petition to the High Court of Justice by the Ramat Negev Regional Council, which demanded treatment of environmental pollution in Ramat Hovav, the court called on the government to prepare an action plan to put an end to the area’s environmental problems, once and for all. But now, there’s some good news for a change. On November 28, 2004, the Israel government unanimously approved a decision to abate pollution from the industrial park, in accordance with an action plan proposed by the Ministry of the Environment. Why is the Industrial Park so Polluted? The industrial park of Ramat Hovav was established in accordance with a 1975 government decision some 12 kilometers from Beersheba. The rationale behind the decision was to concentrate the heavy chemical industry of Israel’s southern region at a single site, which is distant from populated areas and near to sources of raw material.

Treating lifethreatening hotspots

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Reducing air pollution from transportation and industrial sources

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces Catalyzing economic growth and national interests through sustainable development

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

12

ISRAEL ENVIRONMENT BULLETIN. January 2005

A look at the Ramat Hovav industrial park Photo: Ramat Hovav Local Industrial Council

www.environment.gov.il

There are three main focal points of air and water pollution in the Ramat Hovav area, which adversely impact on the central and western Negev: • 17 industrial plants, which produce large quantities of wastewater, with a composition and concentration of hazardous substances that are especially difficult to treat. • The only site in Israel for the treatment of hazardous waste, which includes an incinerator for hazardous substances. • A joint wastewater treatment plant and evaporation ponds, under the responsibility of the Ramat Hovav Local Industrial Council.

Large quantities of industrial wastewater, much of it containing toxic organic and inorganic material, are produced as an integral part of the production processes of these factories. Therefore, it is not surprising that the area is a hotspot of air, soil and water pollution. What’s Been Done? Over the past decade, a range of measures have been taken to improve the quality of water, air and soil in the Ramat Hovav area and upgrade the storage, treatment, disposal and incineration of the hazardous substances and wastes emanating from the industrial plants. These

On November 28, 2004, the Israel government unanimously approved a decision to abate pollution from the Ramat Hovav industrial park

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Treating life-threatening hotspots

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Treating lifethreatening hotspots

included: detailed characterization of the hazardous waste and wastewater streams in each factory, formation of the Ramat Hovav Local Industrial Council in 1989, upgrading of Ramat Hovav’s wastewater treatment plant, and establishment of an inter-ministerial committee to oversee the implementation of these and other safety and environmental measures. Among other things, this committee set new standards for wastewater quality and determined emission standards for wastewater and air. Meanwhile, the Local Industrial Council of Ramat Hovav, which is responsible for developing and maintaining all of the public systems in the area, including infrastructure, sewage and drainage systems, invested millions of dollars in a central facility for the biological treatment of wastewater and in the sealing of evaporation ponds. However, the joint biological treatment plant, which was

by means of additional conditions to the business license of the local council, established a new method for wastewater treatment, based on inhouse treatment of wastewater at the individual plant level through evaporation, desalination and recycling. In addition, the Ministry of the Environment drew up an action plan for rehabilitation of the Ramat Hovav industrial park and its surrounding area. What’s on the Agenda? The Ramat Hovav action plan, which was approved by the government in November 2004, is meant to advance wastewater treatment in the area, remediate the evaporation ponds and the national hazardous waste treatment site, and prevent pollutant emissions into the atmosphere. It calls for stopping the discharge of industrial effluents to joint treatment facilities and ponds by June 30, 2006, at which time individual industrial plants

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designed to reduce the organic substance content in the combined wastewater of all of the manufacturing plants, did not live up to expectations. Although operational since 2002, the plant has not complied with the requisite level of wastewater treatment. The result: in the summer of 2002, severe stench impacted a large area surrounding the industrial area. Attempts to reduce fugitive emissions of hydrogen sulfide were only partially successful. Clearly, something had to be done to address the air pollution and odor problems. In an effort to rehabilitate the area, the Environment Ministry called for reduction in the individual wastewater constituents in the total flow and adoption of the "zero discharge principle" in each factory as initial steps. In May of 2003, the ministry,

in Ramat Hovav will be responsible for treating their own wastes rather than transferring them to joint facilities. The plants will also be required to treat excessive air pollutant emissions. The plan also calls on the Ramat Hovav Industrial Council to begin to drain and remediate the evaporation pond area, which spans some 1,500 square meters, and has been targeted as a major source of stench and air pollution, in 2005, with completion scheduled for 2012. Additional requirements call on the council to operate an air and wastewater monitoring system and to report the results to the public. According to the plan, the Environment Ministry will formulate and operate a plan for preventing excessive hazardous waste emissions into the air from the Ramat Hovav industrial area and complete the remediation of the national site

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Photos: Ramat Hovav Local Industrial Council

ISRAEL ENVIRONMENT BULLETIN. January 2005

Dr. Yossi Inbar: An Action Plan for Ramat Hovav
Deputy Director General for Industries

The government decision should restore to the residents their rightful due - clean air The government decision on the Ramat Hovav Action Plan backs up the activities and decisions of the Environment Ministry with regard to solving some of the difficult problems of the Ramat Hovav industrial area. According to the decision, the treatment of air pollution, especially from wastewater, will be transferred to the sole responsibility of the industrial plants and a "relatively" short timetable will be set for them to implement best available technologies for wastewater treatment. Today, major nuisances are the norm in a large radius around the industrial zone. It is my hope that the implementation of the government decision, which requires the assistance of other government ministries, will restore to the residents their rightful due - clean air - while also providing for the development of the Negev.
Ramat Hovav industrial park Photo: Ramat Hovav Local Industrial Council

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for the treatment of hazardous waste at Ramat Hovav by 2010. A steering committee, headed by the director general of the Prime Minister’s Office, will monitor the implementation of the action plan with the aid of an interministerial expert committee, headed by a representative of the Ministry of the Environment. The steering committee will also examine possibilities for accelerating pollution abatement in order to allow for the implementation of development plans for the Negev region. The Ramat Hovav industrial area, and especially the hazardous waste site, has long been considered a ticking time bomb in the midst of the Negev. Hopefully, the latest government decision will stop the ticking and significantly improve quality of life and the environment in Israel’s southern region.

I can already point to some progress. The ministry’s activities and the government decision have catalyzed the industrial plants to take account of the environmental aspects of all of their processes. In the past, the environment was not a function in their considerations. Today, this is no longer the case. Environmental considerations have become major considerations. Today, there is no way in the world in which a plant can increase its production without a viable solution to its waste stream.
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We at the Ministry of the Environment are committed to overseeing the implementation of this plan. This is our job, in general, as well as the mandate of the interministerial committee which I head. This committee was originally appointed in order to review the treatment of environmental problems at Ramat Hovav and its work led to the formulation of additional conditions to the business license of the Industrial Council of Ramat Hovav. In light of the government decision, the Ministry of the Environment is now completing the formulation of Terms of Reference for an international company that will help us implement the action plan.

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Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Treating lifethreatening hotspots

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste
Oil filter recycling machine at Ramat Hovav Photo: Ilan Malester

Reducing air pollution from transportation and industrial sources

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Fixing a Critical Problem: Used Oil Filters
The environmental problem solving approach helped Israel address the problem of water and soil contamination from used oil
In 2002, the Ministry of the Environment in cooperation with the Israel Garage Association initiated a unique pioneer project for the collection of used oil from the country’s garages. Today, there is no question that the project worked. The project is a product of cooperation - among divisions within the Ministry of the Environment and relevant stakeholders outside the ministry, including the Israel Garage Association, the country’s major bus companies, the Israel Police and vehicle import companies. Utilizing the Environmental Problem Solving model, which was developed in the US by Dr. Malcolm Sparrow, all of the stakeholders came together to "fix" a critical problem - the contamination of water sources and soil from used oil originating in garages throughout the country. Collection of Used Oil Filters for Recycling While the project included three components collection of used oil for reuse, collection of used oil filters for recycling and installation of oil/fuel separators - the greatest progress was achieved in the collection of used oil filters. It is estimated that used oil filters include up to 0.5 liters of used oil each. Yet until recently, most of this oil made its way to the municipal waste system. Out of some 2000 garages that generate about 3 million used oil filters per year, only a few dozen collected about 14,000 used filters on a voluntary basis prior to the initiation of the project. Today, as a result of increased enforcement, education and cooperation with the Israel Garage Association, the number of garages which have contractually committed to collect used oil filters has increased to 1,300 - some 65% of the total. And even more impressive - the number of filters collected from these garages has skyrocketed, reaching 1.26 million in 2003.

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ISRAEL ENVIRONMENT BULLETIN. January 2005

And finally, the market forces which helped catalyze this revolution also brought about the purchase and operation of an oil filter recycling machine in Ramat Hovav which separates the used filters into their components: the metal and used oil are transferred for recycling and the oil-saturated paper is transferred for incineration. Collection of Used Oil for Reuse In 2003, some 15,922 tons of used oil were collected, nearly a quarter of the total quantity of mineral oil sold per year and 56% of the quantity of used oil available for collection from garages. This represents a 12% increase in comparison to 2002. Moreover, the establishment of an additional plant for used oil recycling led to a doubling in the quantity recycled and a two-thirds reduction in the quantity exported for recycling in comparison to 2002. Installation of Oil/Fuel Separators At the beginning of the used oil collection project, nearly no garages in Israel had installed oil/fuel separators. Today, some 210 oil separators have been installed and enforcement measures have been stepped up. Dozens of warnings have been issued to garages concerning requirements for oil/fuel separators. A Win-Win Approach The Environmental Problem Solving approach calls for picking important problems and fixing them. This is exactly what Israel did. Utilizing a well-structured procedure, the Ministry of the Environment set about to clearly define a critical problem, establish a steering committee with the participation of relevant stakeholders, determine indicators for problem solving, and formulate a detailed action plan. The initial goal called for the collection of 350,000 used oil filters per year. The results far exceeded expectations. Using carrot and stick methods, the method worked so well that used filter collection companies were set up, contracts were signed, a recycling machine was purchased - and most important of all - 1.5 million filters were collected. The initiators of the project, Dr. Motti Sela, director of the Industry and Business Licensing Division and Adv. Zohar Shkalim, director of the Enforcement Coordination Division, are more than pleased with the results. Yet both are determined to keep fingers on pulse. Both are convinced that market forces, education and information and stringent enforcement have made a difference.

Ilan Nissim: Israel’s State-of-the-Art Landfills
Director, Solid Waste Management Division
International experts concur: Israel’s new landfills are all engineered to recognized international standards I believe that one of the Environment Ministry’s greatest achievements lies in the area of solid waste management. Within a period of less than 10 years, we moved from dumps to stateof-the-art landfills, from a 2-3% recycling rate to a 20% recycling rate. We closed all of the country’s large-scale dumps - all 77 of them - and by using carrot and stick - a winning combination - managed to attain the cooperation of local authorities, contractors and the private sector. The results were soon evident in the entire range of the solid waste market in Israel. In order to maintain and improve on what we have already achieved, the Ministry of the Environment and the Israeli Solid Waste Forum invited the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) to deliver a workshop on Landfills Operations and Maintenance in Tel Aviv in mid-November, 2004. The result was a series of ten lessons by three international experts from the UK (Derek Greedy) and the USA (Steve Smith and Robert Isenberg) who focused on subjects ranging from day-to-day operational management issues to leachate and landfill gas management, from site safety and accident prevention to closure/post closure care. Consultants, landfill operators, academics, NGOs and regulators took part in the workshop. Prior to the workshop, the experts toured different parts of the country and were able to witness the operation and maintenance of several landfills first-hand. All three were impressed by the high level of Israel’s landfill sites which they considered to be on par with American and Western European standards. The 150-member Israeli Solid Waste Forum is a voluntary body, formed some four years ago in order to advance the level of waste treatment in Israel, distribute professional data and liaise between the private sector, government ministries, local authorities and academia. The composition of the Forum, with stakeholders from all sectors, has significantly raised the awareness of all involved, promoted fruitful dialogue and led to real results in the field.

www.environment.gov.il

A look at a state-of-the-art landfill Photo: Arik Bar Sade

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Reducing air pollution from transportation and industrial sources

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Treating lifethreatening hotspots

AIR QUALITY: monitoring, management and awareness
A look at air quality monitoring results in 2003 reveals a mixed picture
Over one hundred air quality monitoring stations operated in Israel in 2004, run by the Ministry of the Environment’s network (23 stations), municipal associations for the environment (Haifa, Hadera, Ashdod and Ashkelon), the municipality of Petach Tikva and the Israel Electric Corporation. The data they collect is available to every member of the public, in real-time, via the Ministry of the Environment’s website. Following is a short summary of the major findings based on monitoring by general stations, which measure air pollution at roof height, and transportation stations, which measure air pollution near primary traffic junctions, at pavement height. Fine Respirable Particles (PM2.5): Annual exceedances of the proposed Israeli target standard (15 µg/m3) were measured in all monitoring stations which measure PM2.5. Annual concentrations in the area of Haifa, Hadera, Tel Aviv metropolitan area, Ashdod and Ashkelon range between 122%177% of the annual target. In the vicinity of major transportation arteries, the annual concentration reaches 153% of the standard. Some 55%-70% of the desert dust during dust storms is smaller than 2.5 micrometers. The anthropogenic component of this desert dust may be toxic. Respirable Particles (PM10): Exceedances of the annual standard for respirable particulate matter smaller than 10 micrometers (PM10) were recorded in Beersheba, Modi’in, Jerusalem, Gezer, Tel Aviv metropolitan area, Yavne, Beit Shemesh and Afula. Diurnal exceedances were largely recorded during dust storms. Sulfur Dioxide (SO2): Annual concentrations of sulfur dioxide, largely emitted from power plants and industry, are very low, with the highest annual concentration in the industrial area of Ashdod - less than 40% of the annual standard of 23 ppb. Nevertheless, a few exceedances of the halfhour standard were recorded around the Hadera power plant, one exceedance in the Haifa Bay industrial area, one on Mt. Carmel and one in Eilat. Ozone (O3): Since ozone is a secondary pollutant created downwind and away from direct sources of nitrogen oxides emissions, high average annual concentrations were found inland or in areas distant from industrial and transportation sources - in the Carmel Park, Eilat, Givat Ha’More, Ariel, Karmiel, Gush Etzion, Karmei Yosef, Ramat Hovav, Beersheba, Ashkelon area, and Beit Shemesh. The highest number of exceedances were measured in open spaces. For example, 16 halfhour exceedances and 30 eight-hour exceedances were recorded in the Carmel Park in Haifa and 12 half-hour exceedances and 25 eight-hour

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ISRAEL ENVIRONMENT BULLETIN. January 2005

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exceedances were measured at a forest near Givat Ha’more in Afula. Increasing ozone concentrations have been measured in recent years in Karmiel, Ariel, Ramat Gan, Beit Shemesh, Beersheba and Eilat. Nitrogen Oxides (NOx): Nitrogen oxides are indicators of air pollution and precursors for both fine particulates and ozone. High annual concentrations of nitrogen oxides were measured in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, Jerusalem, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Afula, near Hadera and in the Talpiot area in Haifa. Dozens of exceedances of the half-hour standard were measured in several monitoring stations in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area and in Haifa. Long-term exposure to high concentrations of nitrogen dioxide was noted in stations in Ramat Gan, the Tel Aviv central bus station, Holon, Kfar Hayarok junction in Ramat Hasharon, Haifa and Givataim. An annual exceedance of nitrogen dioxide was measured in all of the country’s transportation stations. Annual concentrations of nitrogen oxides in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area and in Jerusalem were largely unchanged or were slightly reduced in comparison to last year. Annual averages of nitrogen oxides measured in transportation stations were higher than in general stations but both annual averages and half hour exceedances

were lower in comparison to last year. This is attributed to climatic conditions, introduction of vehicles equipped with technological means to reduce emissions and activities by the Ministry of the Environment - whether reduction of pollutant emissions from the two major bus companies, marketing of lower-sulfur diesel fuel (50 ppm as opposed to 350 ppm) and increased enforcement against polluting vehicles. Carbon Monoxide (CO): An eight-hour exceedance of the carbon monoxide standard was recorded in a Tel Aviv transportation station in January 2003. In general, half hour averages and eight-hour averages of carbon monoxide in Israel remain very low.

Annual Averages of PM 2.5 (2003)
percent of target annual standard

200 180 160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0

177 147 151

176

122

Haifa

Hadera

Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area

Ashdod

Ashkelon

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Reducing air pollution from transportation and industrial sources

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Dr. Levana Kordova-Biezuner: Air Quality Monitoring
Scientific Director, Israel Air Quality Monitoring Network
What is the importance of Israel’s Air Quality Monitoring Network? The monitoring network is essential to characterize air quality in Israel, to identify the major sources of air pollution and to indicate air pollution trends. For example, an analysis of air quality trends in recent years shows that sulfur dioxide concentrations have decreased significantly and that nitrogen oxides levels are on the decrease but that concentrations of particulate matter remain high. An essential objective of the network is to inform the public about air quality levels in real time and to transmit alerts and guidelines during high pollution episodes. Furthermore, the network is crucial for determining standards and reviewing policy and will play a vital role in calibrating the air resources management system which is currently being established. What are the most problematic pollutants from a health point of view? Epidemiological studies in Israel and around the world point to a link between air pollution and health problems, especially respiratory, cardio-vascular and circulatory diseases. Fine particulates, which are smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, are the most dangerous to human health since they can infiltrate the respiratory system and lead to increased morbidity and mortality in people with respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. Toxic materials may also be absorbed on the surface of the fine particles and be drawn deep into the lung with the particles. In recent years research studies have shown that fine respirable particle are responsible for a wide range of health damages including cardiac and respiratory diseases, asthma and even premature death. Segments of the population that are especially susceptible to PM pollution include children, senior citizens, and people with pre-existing respiratory problems. Diesel particulate matter, which is a known carcinogen, is especially hazardous. Its danger lies in its small size, which is less than 2.5 microns, its large surface area and its ability to adsorb large quantities of organic compounds. The most harmful of the adsorbed compounds that diesel particulates carry deep into the lungs are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which are known to be carcinogenic. Is the general public aware of the health impacts of air pollutants? A couple of years ago the Ministry of the Environment began to publicize an Air Quality Index in order to provide the general population with updated information on air quality in their vicinity. The index is published in newspapers and television as well as on our Internet site. In the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, we also publish an air quality forecast for vehicular pollution. When air pollution levels throughout the country are especially high, we publish guidelines to the public on appropriate actions to avoid or reduce exposure. Recently, we decided that the most effective way to drive the message home is through a public campaign. The idea is to inform the public that air pollution episodes are likely to occur during the cold winter months and that the Ministry of the Environment will issue warnings when harmful air pollution is expected along with guidelines on what to do or not to do to avert potential health damages. This is especially critical for sensitive groups, including children, the elderly, asthmatics and those suffering from heart and lung diseases. We are using the graphic image of a turtle to drive the message home the turtle sticks its head out and proceeds cautiously during high pollution days and retracts its head during very high pollution days. And, of course, we give top importance to public awareness for the simple reason that an informed public will lobby and take an active part in the struggle for better air quality in Israel.

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ISRAEL ENVIRONMENT BULLETIN. January 2005

Shuli Nezer: Israel’s Air Resource Management System
A LOOK AT AIR QUALITY DATA: 2004 A look at air quality data for 2004 shows improvements in several major cities and deterioration in two cities in comparison to 2003. This is expressed in the number of days in which exceedances of air quality standards were recorded. Following is a short summary: • Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area: 65 pollution days in 2004 in comparison to 77 in 2003. • Jerusalem: 55 days in 2004 in comparison to 71 in 2003. • Beersheba: 15 days in 2004 in comparison to 27 days in 2003. • Afula: 14 days in 2004 in comparison to 18 days in 2003. • Beit Shemesh: 14 days in 2004 in comparison to 19 days in 2003. • Rehovot: 10 days in 2004 in comparison to 11 days in 2003 • Karmiel: 16 days in 2004 in comparison to 7 days in 2003. • Modi'in: Highest concentrations of respirable particles exceeding air quality standards, attributed to accelerated construction and quarrying in the area.

Director, Air Quality Division
Implementation of the system in 2005 will mark a major leap forward in managing Israel’s air resources Israel’s monitoring efforts will be reinforced and completed with the introduction of our air quality management system in 2005, according to a contract signed in November of last year with Electronic Data Systems Corp (EDS), in cooperation with the French company Aria Technologies. For me, personally, this will be a dream fulfilled, a major leap forward in managing Israel’s air resources. The system will cover the entire country and will be based on emissions data from all pollution sources - power plants, industry, transport, quarries, natural sources, households - as well as on meteorological, topographical, geographical and traffic data. It will analyze pollution dispersion in time and space and, among other things, will help forecast the state of the country’s air quality, analyze pollution events, assess the effectiveness of emission reduction programs, and facilitate policy-making and development planning. The system will significantly improve Israel’s ability to manage its air resources by providing real time data on air quality throughout the country, by supplying information on all contributors to air pollution in a particular area, by detecting the main source of air pollution when high concentrations are recorded, by identifying the main sources of pollution in densely populated areas, and by forecasting air pollution throughout the country at least a day or two in advance in order to allow the population to organize accordingly. It will open up additional opportunities for us in various areas, such as, for example, the ability to perform cost/benefit analysis on such crucial issues as updating our environmental standards. Once we can show the link between what is emitted and what is happening in the environment, we will be able to indicate what should be done in each specific sector in order to comply with standards. Moreover, the information will also be available on our website, for anyone, anywhere. With a click of a button, every member of the public will be able to access data on pollution levels from a nearby plant or road and to be continuously updated about air quality in his immediate environment.

www.environment.gov.il

A LOOK AT ACHIEVEMENTS: 2004 • The sulfur content in diesel fuel was reduced from 350 ppm to 50 ppm in all gas stations. • Leaded gasoline was phased out. • The sulfur content of 96-octane gasoline was reduced from 1500 ppm to 150 ppm and a 42% limit was set on aromatic substances. • A research study on the performance of buses using oxidation catalytic converters was successfully completed. • The Treasury approved a scheme for scrapping of old vehicles • As per an administrative order, the Egged bus company completed steps which reduced particulate emissions from city buses by 50%, NOx by 25% and hydrocarbons by 35%. The Dan bus company also complied with these conditions with the exception of particulate reduction and is now undergoing legal investigation. • The Ministry of Transport established standards for dual fuel gas/gasoline conversions for vehicles from 1995 onwards. • 45% reductions in purchase taxes were approved for hybrid cars. • Administrative orders for pollution abatement were issued to hospitals, with conditions for reducing stack emissions and ethylene oxide, used as a sterilant and associated with health hazards including cancer. • Natural gas was introduced into the Eshkol power plant in Ashdod.

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Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Conserving A Wealth of Biodiversity

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View of the Carmel Photo: Ilan Malester

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces Catalyzing economic growth and national interests through sustainable development

A rich variety of flora and fauna and a wide range of ecosystems and landscapes characterize Israel. Some 2,400 plant species, 7 amphibian, 100 reptile, 530 bird and 100 mammal species may be found within the small land area of the country.
How to conserve the wealth of biodiversity in a small and densely populated country? How to assure the conservation of genetic resources, species and ecosystems in the face of intensive development? Israel is well aware of the threats to its unique biodiversity - habitat destruction and fragmentation, introduction and spread of alien species, intensive use of fertilizers and pesticides, diversion and drying up of wetlands and environmental pollution. It is no wonder, therefore, that the subject of biodiversity has been upgraded on the Ministry of the Environment’s priority list. One of the first items on the agenda is the preparation of the National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan whose most important component
Photos: Flowers - Oz Golan Ibex: Motti Sela

is an action plan and recommendations for implementation. Today, there is no longer any doubt that the conservation of Israel’s biodiversity is imperative - environmentally, morally, existentially. The only remaining question is the "how" of the process. To help answer this question, the Ministry of the Environment is coordinating the preparation of a national plan which is being prepared by a task force of experts hailing from government ministries and public bodies - including the Nature and Parks Authority, the Ministries of Education, Science and Agriculture, representatives of academic institutions, and NGOs including the

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ISRAEL ENVIRONMENT BULLETIN. January 2005

Photos from left to right: Nature & Parks Authority, Amir Balaban, Oz Golan, Oz Goffman, Ilan Malester

Society for the Protection of Nature and Jewish National Fund. To advance the process, a wide variety of activities has been launched including the appointment of expert teams on such subjects as education and public awareness, monitoring and research, threats and conservation measures, legislative and institutional framework and international aspects of biodiversity. Today all of the teams are hard at work, and many have already prepared preliminary papers which survey the professional literature, provide examples from national strategies in other countries and present the situation in Israel along with preliminary recommendations. According to Dr. Eliezer Frankenberg of the Nature and Parks Authority, who heads the international team, there is no doubt that the Biodiversity Convention has had a direct impact on the research conducted in Israel and, of course, worldwide. Questions regarding what to investigate, what to protect and how to do so are no longer dictated by academia alone, but also by the guidelines provided within the framework of the Convention. Threats and Conservation Measures One of the most critical chapters of the draft national biodiversity plan is entitled "Threats and Conservation Measures," compiled by Drs. Avi Perevelotsky and Yehoshua Shkedy. The chapter identifies the main threats to Israel’s biodiversity including habitat fragmentation and invasive species and proposes preliminary recommendations, including long-term research and monitoring, establishment of nature and biosphere reserves and creation of a professional forum to address the problem of invasive species. Clearly, recognition of the threats is largely dependent on the compilation of data concerning

the status of Israel’s biodiversity. While the earliest references to Israel’s flora and fauna may be traced back as far as the Bible and others go back to the vivid descriptions of Henry Baker Tristram in the 19th century, scientific documentation of Israel’s natural heritage began in earnest in the 20th century and was much expanded in recent years. In order to provide a firm basis for conservation measures, preliminary recommendations call for setting up a central natural history museum with the twin functions of education and research, a computerized national database on biodiversity which will provide access to internet-based GIS systems, and long-term ecological research networks which will collect data in a central computerized database which will be accessible to the public. Following is a brief look at some of the major threats to Israel’s rich biodiversity: The Problem: Habitat Fragmentation: The fragmentation and destruction of habitats through housing and development, road construction and urbanization has been responsible for the disappearance and decline of several species in Israel. Therefore, setting priorities for ecosystem conservation has been a central issue in the preparation of the national strategy.

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In juxtaposition to its small land area, Israel is characterized by a rich variety of flora and fauna

Preliminary Recommendations: In light of the importance of ecosystem conservation, a critical recommendation is to map all of Israel’s remaining natural habitats, protect them, and, if necessary, restore them. All of Israel’s ecosystems should then be classified and the level of their representation in protected areas should be assessed. To protect ecosystems, several approaches have been forwarded including a focus on biodiversity hotspots, GAP Analysis and ecological corridors. Furthermore, since agricultural, industrial and residential development have left insufficient open spaces

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Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Menachem Zalutzki: Biodiversity Conservation in Israel
Director, Open Spaces Division, Ministry of the Environment
There is a legal imperative and a moral imperative to protect and preserve the country’s remarkable biodiversity Recognition of the fact that biodiversity is a necessity of life, with a critical role in sustainable development, has spurred the Ministry of the Environment to initiate the preparation of a National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan. The reasons for this decision may be traced to two parallel needs - the legal imperative to comply with the provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the moral imperative to protect and preserve the country’s remarkable biodiversity. While several bodies in Israel have been and continue to be engaged in important work in the field of biodiversity, there is a great need for integration and cooperation. I hope that the studies currently being undertaken by the different teams preparing Israel’s national strategy will provide answers to such vital questions as where to monitor, what to research, which actions to take immediately, and how to allocate already tight resources. It is of utmost importance for Israel to have a national plan which will consolidate objectives, principles and priority for action in the short, medium and long range. The preparation of the plan has highlighted some of the major threats to biodiversity in this country and has pointed the way to potential solutions, some of which are already being implemented. For example, for the past decade we have given high priority to the restoration of our wetland ecosystems - specifically our major rivers which have been tapped at their source to supply urban and agricultural demand and all too often replaced by urban, industrial and agricultural effluents. We did this in order to achieve two important aims: to facilitate the preservation and rehabilitation of unique aquatic habitats and to provide our residents with open spaces for recreation and leisure. In another area, just a few months ago we published, along with the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Research, a policy document on "Alien Plant Species in Protected and Open Areas in the Central District." The aim of the study was to determine which exotic plant species occur in open and protected areas, to define their current level of proliferation and to indicate which alien plant species require the most urgent control measures. The study, which identified some 18 alien species in the central area of the country, some of them already invasive, proposes basic principles and practical measures that may be incorporated in an environmental policy targeted at eradicating and controlling alien species. Another area of progress relates to the implementation of guidelines on animal passages in roads as a means of mitigating habitat fragmentation. In fact, a 150-meter long passageway for animals has already been incorporated into one of our major roads, the Trans-Israel Road (Road #6). Furthermore, we demanded - and obtained - environmental compensation for the nuisances which will be caused by the road in an area which is particularly rich in landscapes, flora and fauna. This entailed the establishment of an animal passage on Road #70 which will allow large mammals such as gazelles to cross between two biologically rich areas - the Carmel and Ramat Menashe and the Alona Hills. And finally, I am especially proud of our most recent internet-based project, which is targeted at the general population - "Plant of the Week." Every week, our Hebrew website features one of the country’s blooming plants, with a description, a picture and suggestions for a "Hike of the Week," along with a map of the area in which the flower may be found. Those interested in further information need only click on the link to the interactive map to learn more about the landscape unit which features the plant and to find out about plants in this and other areas, including rare, red and endemic plants.

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ISRAEL ENVIRONMENT BULLETIN. January 2005

for biodiversity conservation, additional measures may include reconciliation ecology which calls for the establishment of new habitats in the urban environment.
Invasive Species: After habitat destruction, invasive species are the second greatest cause to species decline and extinction worldwide. Therefore, the Ministry of the Environment and the Nature and Parks Authority have upgraded this subject on their priority list.

protection measures include the establishment of protected sites such as national parks, nature reserves and forests, strengthening of endangered populations and reintroduction of locally extinct species such as oryx, onagers, Persian fallow deer, and others.

Preliminary Recommendations: To address the threat to biodiversity from invasive species, initial recommendations call for creating professional and administrative forums to determine priorities and measures for controlling and eradicating invasive species, preventing the introduction of alien species into the country and defining means for reducing the size of invasive species populations in Israel.
Endangered Species: Israel is currently identifying and assessing its endangered species through the preparation of Red Data Books on vertebrates (already published) and wild plants (in preparation). According to these Red Books, some 35% of the country’s vertebrates are endangered, although the rate ranges between 20% for nesting birds to 83% for amphibians, and about 17% of the country’s wild plants are listed as endangered. Today’s

Preliminary Recommendations: To strengthen protection, preliminary recommendations call for formulating detailed conservation plans, establishing priorities for treatment and setting up a fund to finance emergency measures. Additional recommendations call for institutionalizing and upgrading scientific counts of selected populations of flora and fauna and determining optimal population sizes for key species at a regional level in order to help formulate management plans.
A Look to the Future Recognition of the fact that biodiversity is a necessity of life, with a critical role in sustainable development, has spurred Israel to initiate the preparation of a National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan. The strategic action plan, which will hopefully be completed in 2005, will include both guiding principles and recommendations for implementation in the short, medium and long terms. Hopefully, the formulation of the action plan, and more importantly its implementation, will pave the way for the sustainable use and conservation of Israel’s biodiversity.

www.environment.gov.il
Small Photos: Verbesina enceliodines Burning and soil solarization of Acacia saligna

Acacia saligna at the coastal sand dunes of Israel Photo: Pua Bar

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Improving the environment and preserving open spaces
Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Prof. Pua Bar (Kutiel): Invasive Species in Israel
Department of Geography and Environmental Development, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Awareness of the critical problem of invasive species must be increased Invasive species are alien species which have been directly or indirectly introduced by man to a new habitat where they become established and spread to additional new habitats. These species spread at the expense of indigenous species, a process that is accompanied by a decrease in biodiversity, that is to say a decrease in species diversity, a decrease in habitat diversity (homogenization of the landscape) and a disruption of ecological and environmental processes with significant economic impacts (damage to aquifers, introduction of pests and disease agents in agriculture, etc.). In Israel, invasive alien species, both plants and animals, are found in all terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Unfortunately, methodological long-term research studies have not been carried out to investigate the causes, patterns and impacts of the problem or the tools to minimize it, and consequently there are no tools or a comprehensive policy to address such aspects as prevention, management and enforcement. What’s more, Israel does not participate in global and European projects on the subject. Yet, there are initial signs of progress. A master’s student in Tel Aviv University has developed an updated inventory of invasive fauna in terrestrial and fresh water habitats. This inventory reveals the following: 18 invasive bird species, of tropical origin, are mainly found along the coastal plain or the Syrian-African Rift. Among these, starlings have a high representation. There are 20 species of fresh water fish in the Jordan River system, coastal rivers and Sea of Galilee, of which 10 reproduce in nature. The invasive species in the Sea of Galilee, one of Israel’s drinking water reservoirs, compete with local species (including endemic species) for littoral habitats and nesting sites and impair water quality over time. The invasion of species from the Red Sea (Lessepsian immigration) to the Mediterranean Sea is one of the best-known phenomena in biological invasion on a global scale, which began with the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. More than 300 flora and fauna species of Red Sea origin have invaded the Mediterranean Sea, of which 60 were documented as model species which constitute about 15% of the fish fauna in the Middle East. Currently, one invasive fish is discovered every year. Other known or suspected invasive species include 200 invasive insects, most of which are considered pests, 28 alien ant species, 10 terrestrial and 26 fresh water mollusk species, and mussels from the Red Sea that infiltrated to the Mediterranean. There are 164 alien vascular plant species in Israel, of which 53 are considered invasive (24 are known as weeds in agriculture). Unfortunately, there are nearly no systematic research studies on the ecological-environmental-economic significance of invasive plants in Israel. One comprehensive research study is currently being compiled in Ben-Gurion University, with the participation of researchers from the Hebrew University and the Volcani Institute. It focuses on management tools for suppressing the spread of invasive species through a combination of methods, with an emphasis on the suppression of the seed bank. Invasive plant species, such as the Acacia saligna (a legume tree), on the one hand, and Heteroteca subexilaris (an herbaceous composite), on the other, produce over 400,000 seeds per individual per year and their seed bank, in the case of the acacia, reaches 40,000 seeds per square meter. The research also concentrates on invasion strategies of plants and their impacts on habitat diversity. In recognition of the severity of the problem, the Nature and Parks Authority has set out to deal with all aspects of invasive species. For this purpose, a steering committee has been established, in which I am a member, one of whose aims is to advance the subject on the national and the international scale.

Treating lifethreatening hotspots

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Reducing air pollution from transportation and industrial sources

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces Catalyzing economic growth and national interests through sustainable development

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

ISRAEL ENVIRONMENT BULLETIN. January 2005

Prof. Moshe Shachak: Long-Term Ecological Research
Professor of Ecology, Mitrani Department for Desert Ecology, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
If Israel wants to be among the leaders in ecological research, we should have a national network of ecological research sites I have been investigating ecosystems in Israel for many years. I have come to the conclusion that if Israel wants to be among the leaders in ecological research, we should have a national network of ecological research sites. It is for this reason that with my colleagues, Drs. Avi Perevolotsky and Bertrand Boeken, we founded the Israel Long-Term Ecological Research Network in 1990, which is part of the International LTER. Global scientific interest in LTER programs, which aim at assessing complex environmental issues, has expanded significantly over the past decade, and Israel is proud to be an integral part of this global network. The goals of Israel’s LTER network include: • To investigate the structure, function and long-term dynamics of ecological systems and their impact on biodiversity in specific sites along Israel’s rainfall gradient. • To use this knowledge to develop ecological management methods for preserving and rehabilitating biodiversity. • To i n t e g r a t e t h e s i t e s a n d d a t a i n environmental education programs which emphasize the importance of biodiversity for the functioning of the biological system and its services to man. Over the past decade, long-term ecological research stations have been - and are continuing to be - established along the rain gradient. At present, seven sites, representing arid, semi-arid, sand and Mediterranean scrubland ecosystems, operate in Israel. These are, from south to north, Mitzpe Ramon (with less than 100 mm of rain), Ovdat, Shaked, Lehavim, Adulam, Nitzanim and Ramat HaNadiv (with some 600 mm of rain). In the future two others will begin to operate - Miron and Begin. A director and a managing team administer each site. The site directors form the managing team of the network. A three-member steering committee represents the network in Israel and abroad. At most of the sites, research is undertaken on the effects of woody vegetation as landscape modulators on biodiversity. In all of the sites, long-term data are collected on selected groups of plants and animals. These data will be available to researchers, managers, educators and the general public in the near future. There is no question as to the contribution of these sites to the understanding of long-term trends in ecosystem dynamics along Israel’s rainfall gradient. Moreover, the research itself is not merely an academic exercise. Already today the Jewish National Fund and the Nature and Park Authority have adopted management methods based on the Israel LTER findings.

www.environment.gov.il

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Amir Balaban: Urban Ecology
Co-Director, Jerusalem Bird Observatory

Treating lifethreatening hotspots

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Reducing air pollution from transportation and industrial sources

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces Catalyzing economic growth and national interests through sustainable development

We must recognize the enormous potential of community urban wildlife sites Urban ecology is a new concept on the local planning scene in Israel. Unlike what is happening in several European countries and the United States, Israel, as a young state with an accelerated rate of urban development, has taken little or no account of the importance of incorporating nature sites into the densely built urban fabric. Yet the sustainable management of natural systems is both easy and inexpensive. We just have to let nature do what it can do in order to create a unique attraction in the urban environment, which will also help to abate nuisances - moderate climate, absorb pollutants and facilitate the penetration of water to the soil and groundwater. As realization grows that nature is not the personal property of only those who live in the countryside, so does public demand for green spaces in the urban environment. My vision is that statutory nature sites be allocated and protected in every town, everywhere. I

would like our municipalities to incorporate the concept of urban wildlife sites into their day-today management, with the participation of an urban ecologist who will be dedicated to managing these areas as sustainable green spaces, which are open and accessible to all. Unfortunately, we are still far away from the fulfillment of this vision since our planning bodies and municipal authorities continue to view land reserves as opportunities for building and development. What is needed is a change in conception. As has occurred in such cities as London, nature should only be a walk away, accessible and free for all. As a first step we must conduct an inventory of the current state, then we must prioritize existing open spaces according to their value in terms of both biodiversity and public attraction. Only then can a decision be taken on what to preserve, what to develop. Unlike the case of nature reserves, both man and the environment are equal in urban nature sites. The idea is both to conserve biodiversity and to

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

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ISRAEL ENVIRONMENT BULLETIN. January 2005

www.environment.gov.il

create a place in which every person can meet the natural resources which are unique to his city, inexpensively, immediately and accessibly. Moreover, the public is welcome to participate in different aspects of urban nature sites, whether in research, education, site maintenance or in a wide variety of leisure activities. Today, the first buds of progress are already here. For example, the Jerusalem Bird Observatory is the first official community urban wildlife site in Israel which was allocated by the state specifically as an urban natural site. The site, which is part of the Israeli Ornithological Center of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, is one of the few traditional birdwatching areas (IBA) in Jerusalem that has not been harmed by development, and is centrally located by the Knesset, making it attractive as an educational

West Jerusalem neighborhoods and only minutes away from a large shopping mall. The valley is best known for a herd of mountain gazelles (about 30 individuals) which survived the massive urban development of the area and is sustained from the local natural resources. However, this urban wildlife site has been threatened by a large construction project whose realization will not only impose a death penalty on the gazelles but will mean the loss of the last open space in the area and one of the few remaining natural valleys in the city as a whole. Residents of the area did more than just call for the preservation of the valley but set up an action committee and drew up an alternative plan for developing the valley. Based on both resident participation and scientific surveys of the natural resources of the area, the alternative plan calls for preservation of a large part of the valley as a
At the Jerusalem Bird Observatory and Gazelle Valley Photos: Amir Balaban

and tourist center. It is no wonder, therefore, that the site has succeeded in meeting its main goals: environmental education, conservation research, eco-tourism and a meeting ground for all sectors of the public in Israel. Around the bird-ringing table, in summer camps and in numerous courses, it is not uncommon to see young and old, religious and secular, Jew and Arab, working and learning together in an apolitical setting which serves as a common denominator. Yet that’s not all, residents of Jerusalem are continuing to struggle on behalf of urban wildlife sites. A prominent example is the so-called "Gazelle Valley" in the urban heartland of several

natural zone, reserved for the valley’s wildlife, surrounded by public spaces for recreation, leisure and sport. These and other examples highlight the importance of identifying the enormous potential of community urban wildlife sites. The advantages are enormous not only in terms of biodiversity conservation but in terms of the communities themselves. Such sites also offer immense potential for special education programs - offering employment possibilities, work in the open air, development of professions related to urban ecology, and training on monitoring, gardening, and maintenance of ecosystems, public infrastructures and nest boxes. It’s a win-win situation for all.

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Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Prof. Avi Shmida: Israel’s Wild Plants
Professor, Department of Evolution, Systematics and Ecology Director of Rotem, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Treating lifethreatening hotspots

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Reducing air pollution from transportation and industrial sources

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces
Yellow Iris Photo: Oz Golan

Catalyzing economic growth and national interests through sustainable development

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

Over the past 25 years, Rotem, the Israel Plant Information Center, in cooperation with the Society for the Protection of Nature, has been hard at work developing a comprehensive database of Israel’s wild plants, which is based on over 650,000 observations by people throughout the country who report on the location and blooming times of different plants. The aim is three-fold: • Education - To instill a love and knowledge of Israel’s wild plants in the general public and nature lovers. • Science - To undertake research on the geographic distribution, biology and phenology of wild plants in Israel.

• Nature Conservation - To promote the conservation of wild plants in Israel by supplying botanical information and especially information on rare and endemic plants for conservation use. Today, access to information concerning the botanic richness of different areas in Israel is only a click away. Thanks to a research project, conducted by Rotem in conjunction with the Ministry of the Environment, quick and free access to listings of 2,383 plant species, including endemic, rare and endangered species, is already available on the Environment Ministry’s website. But that’s not all. The two bodies are currently advancing an ambitious project which should

ISRAEL ENVIRONMENT BULLETIN. January 2005

see the transformation of different aspects of the Rotem database into a user-friendly, internet-based guide to the wild plants of Israel. The electronic guide, which will be accessible on the Ministry of the Environment’s website, will include something for everyone: a full lexicon of Israel’s wild plants, replete with their names and synonyms in Hebrew, Arabic, Latin and English; immediate access to photographs of all of Israel’s wild plants (one click - one photograph, an additional click, additional photographs); a distribution map for each plant, with information on blooming periods, plant characteristics, habitat, and flower color. In the second stage of the project, additional features will be provided: a full description of each plant and a paragraph about plant uses, folklore, seed dispersal and flower pollination. As of December 2004, the Ministry of the Environment’s website already includes weekly online information about a blossoming plant and where it can be found, a so-called "Plant of the Week", accompanied by a "Hike of the Week". Israel’s flora comprises 2,383 species of which 148 are endemic and 405 are Red. The Red List includes

the edge of their distribution). The Rotem-Ministry of the Environment internet-based project features a map which identifies Israel’s botanic hotspots so that information on Israel’s rare and "Red Plants" and their geographic distribution is available to anyone, anywhere. These maps should go a long way toward identifying rarity and biodiversity hotspots in order to set priorities for conservation and development policies in Israel. The information will be incorporated in a Red Data Book of wild plant species. Today we are witnessing a positive phenomenon - a return to nature. My hope is that Israelis will learn to look beyond the smoke of barbecues to the beauty of the country’s wild plants. Hopefully, they will take the time to look at and to enjoy the remarkable plentitude of our wild plants, which is remarkable not only nationally but internationally as well. The "Flower of the Week" which is featured on the ministry’s website, and is available to anyone, provides essential information on hiking routes to blooming plants in different areas of the country in different parts of the year. It is important to remember that an average of 36 different plant species abound in one meter of land in Israel, making it one of the richest areas in the world. Furthermore, the spring blossoming in Israel is among the most spectacular in the world since some 60% of our plants are annuals which flower together within a short period of time and compete for each wild bee fauna. The spectacular corollas, which are displayed by these plants as they compete for pollinators is truly memorable. It is my wish that our public will identify and recognize as many of these species as possible. The internet-based guide should go a long way toward fulfilling this wish.

www.environment.gov.il

I hope that Israelis will take the time to look at and to enjoy the remarkable plentitude of our wild plants, which is remarkable not only nationally but internationally as well

all of Israel’s endangered plant species based on five major factors: rarity (number of sites where the species is present), extinction rate and habitat vulnerability (decreasing rate in number of sites and destruction probability of the habitat), attractivity (probability of picking or exploiting the plant), endemism (species which are endemic to Israel) and peripherality (plants which are at
Photos: Oz Golan, Menachem Zaluzki

31

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces
Waiting for adoption at an animal shelter Photo: Galia Sterhall

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Treating lifethreatening hotspots

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Reducing air pollution from transportation and industrial sources

Promotion of Animal Welfare
Awareness of animal welfare has grown dramatically in recent years

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces Catalyzing economic growth and national interests through sustainable development

Animals and Society: A Unique Project
A unique interdisciplinary project, initiated by the Department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University in 1996, highlights the link between people and animals. Its objective: to collect and disseminate professional material on the interrelationship between people and animals, to conduct professional research, and to raise awareness of the subject. In recent years the project has become the focal point for anyone involved in animal welfare - boasting a rich library, a quarterly publication and annual conferences. Furthermore, it is a major source of information to individuals and organizations interested in finding ways of incorporating animals into educational and therapeutic frameworks. The number of participants in its annual conferences - nearly one thousand in recent years - testifies to the growing importance of the subject among the academic community, professionals and the general public.

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

According to Mr. Tzachi Dotan, director of the Animal Welfare Division of the Ministry of the Environment, a window of opportunity has opened in Israel. Awareness of the importance of preventing cruelty to animals has grown dramatically - both among the general public and among decision makers. In the Ministry of the Environment, a 60% increase in the animal welfare budget was approved in 2004 - testimony to the importance of the subject even in times of across-the-board budgetary cutbacks. At a time of economic setbacks which drastically reduced donations to animal welfare organizations, these extra shekels are helping to make a difference. "Adopt Me" - A Huge Project to Adopt Abandoned Animals Each year 50,000 dogs are abandoned or put to sleep in Israel. As part of its effort to tackle this phenomenon, the Animal Welfare Division of the ministry, in cooperation with NRG Maariv (the internet arm of a major Israeli daily newspaper) and 15 animal welfare associations, decided to initiate a major campaign: "Adopt Me".

ISRAEL ENVIRONMENT BULLETIN. January 2005

The aim of the unprecedented project, which was initiated in midOctober, was simple: to find a home for hundreds of abandoned dogs and cats before winter sets in. Within the framework of the campaign a computerized database (in Hebrew) was created including the visiting cards of hundreds of dogs waiting for adoption in 15 animal shelters throughout the county. The visiting cards, appeared in the NRG Maariv site so that surfers would be able to find the dog (or cat) of their dreams according to geographical areas. By means of the website, surfers were able to apply directly to the relevant association with a request to adopt the animal. The campaign was a major success. Homes were found for over 800 animals. Dealing with Feral Cats The phenomenon is well known. Feeders of stray and feral cats exist in every city. Recognition of this fact has led the Ministry of Agriculture to issue a procedure for dealing with feral cats which relates to such aspects as trapping, feeding stations and euthanasia. Furthermore, guidelines have been issued on feeding by members of the public. These guidelines, which take account of both the obligations and rights of feeders, relate to spaying and neutering, checking for disease or injuries, feeding in public areas which do not disturb neighbors, providing dry and clean food, maintaining cleanliness, etc. In recent years, two decisions by the High Court of Justice related to the treatment of stray and feral cats. In the most recent decision, the court called for a revision of the existing procedure, in order to prevent large-scale and random euthanasia. In line with the court’s decision, a committee has been established to see how to implement the decision in Israel. One of the main questions on the agenda is how to act in case of a complaint about a feral cat which is causing nuisances. Spaying and Neutering: An Imperative Some 4000 stray dogs are put to sleep every month in Israel because they have no home. Some believe that this is only 50% of the real number. The reasons for these numbers are clear: too many dogs are abandoned, whether out of cruelty, convenience, or simply low budgets, but not enough are adopted. Clearly something must be done to stop the vicious circle set in motion by the abandonment of dogs, which are not spayed or neutered. It is estimated that a local authority spends some 100-140 shekels to catch a stray dog, put it to sleep and bury it. This translates to millions of shekels per year. In order to solve the problem in a more humane and more economical - manner, efforts to promote neutering and spaying have been redoubled. Plans call for raising people’s awareness of the problem and letting them know that neutering also makes financial sense since it will reduce the annual licensing fee in half. Animal Shelters Municipal animal shelters impound stray dogs, which are put to sleep if not claimed or adopted within 10 days. As of the year 2000, the Ministry of the Environment has provided financial aid to local authorities for the establishment or refurbishment of animal shelters, according to the recommendations and guidelines of the Veterinary Services of the Ministry of Agriculture. The idea is to improve the welfare and humane treatment of impounded animals and provide them with proper care and maintenance, with conditions appropriate for the 21st century.

Tzachi Dotan: Animal Welfare
Director, Animal Welfare Division
Education and awareness have made a real difference in the public’s attitude -and participation - in animal welfare issues Mahatma Gandhi once said: "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated". This sentence rings especially true today. Firstly, research studies have shown that violence by young people against animals may well lead to violence toward people. It is possible to stop this cycle of violence by promoting animal care and welfare. Secondly, the vision of stray animals, or animals that are mistreated, or run over is an all too familiar sight. In the 21st century it is unconscionable to stand idly by while such things occur. I believe in our ability to change our attitudes toward animals and at the same time to help children, the disabled, and senior citizens through the care of animals. Our task under the Animal Welfare Law is to educate the public toward concern and responsibility for animal welfare. And there is no question that we are succeeding in our task. The education of children is critical in this respect and we are doing everything we can, with the help and cooperation of all relevant stakeholders, to transmit this message from a humanitarian point of view, without resorting to extremism. For example, the Environment Ministry, in conjunction with educational and animal welfare organizations, initiated a school project on the prevention of cruelty to animals a few years ago. The project has been so successful, not only in preventing violence but in fostering sensitivity to the needs of others and personal responsibility, that hundreds of schools have joined or expressed their interest in participating. But we are not only directing our efforts at children, but at every member and sector of the public. Thus, we have been organizing training seminars for local authorities, the army, the police and much more. There is what to do, much to change. We, at the Animal Welfare Division of the Ministry of the Environment, intend to do all we can to prevent cruelty to animals, through the promotion of education and information, reduction of stray animals, aid to municipal animal shelters, assistance to animal welfare associations and help to animals in distress.

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www.environment.gov.il

Catalyzing economic growth and national interests through sustainable development
Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Treating lifethreatening hotspots

Promoting Kyoto’s Clean Development Mechanism

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Reducing air pollution from transportation and industrial sources

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces Catalyzing economic growth and national interests through sustainable development

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

The CDM market in Israel has begun to awaken The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is one of two project-based flexible mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol. Its dual goals are to promote sustainable development in developing countries and to allow industrialized countries to earn emissions credits from their investments in emissionreducing projects in developing countries. Emission reductions are expected to be real, measurable and additional to what would have occurred in the absence of the project.

Israel, which is classified as a non-Annex I country under the Climate Change Convention, ratified the Kyoto Protocol in February 2004 and soon afterward created a Designated National Authority (DNA), under the ministerial responsibility of the Ministry of the Environment but with representatives from numerous government and public bodies. The main function of the DNA is to determine whether the proposed CDM project complies with sustainable development criteria.

ISRAEL ENVIRONMENT BULLETIN. January 2005

A view from the shut-down Hiriya landfill where waste is being transformed into biogas.

methane emissions from the decomposition of solid waste is very significant, this sector offers major potential in reducing greenhouse gases. Similarly, emissions from the energy sector may be reduced through greater energy efficiency and use of renewable energy. It is no wonder, therefore, that the first large-scale CDM projects which have been submitted to the NDA for preliminary approval include proposals for the construction of methane gas collection and flaring systems in two closed landfills and an energy efficiency project in the cement production sector. According to Ms. Lyora Goren, who coordinated the project in 2004, the CDM market in Israel has definitely begun to awaken. As a result of Israel’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, establishment of the NDA and global awakening in preparation for the entry into force of the Protocol, interest in this market has grown substantially. Israel provides a fruitful ground for potential investors due to its technological and scientific expertise, including its wide experience in the field of clean technologies, its transparency and open access to a wide range of data, and the stability of its government. Categorized as a developing country under the Convention, but with the advantages of a developed country, it offers favorable conditions for the implementation of CDM projects with minimal risk.

www.environment.gov.il

Israel offers favorable conditions for the implementation of CDM projects with minimal risk

Editor’s Note: The Ministry of the Environment’s English website provides a host of information on CDM in Israel, including forms, sustainable development indicators, and lists of Israeli companies or organizations which are seeking investors in the framework of the CDM.
Wind farm at Alonei Habashan Photo: Ilan Malester

CDM Opportunities in Israel Although numerous opportunities for the implementation of CDM projects in Israel exist, the waste treatment and energy sectors provide especially attractive investment opportunities. For example, although Israel has made major strides in its waste management over the past decade, closing down 77 large waste dumps and replacing them with state-of-the-art central landfills, only a few of these sites extract and utilize methane. Since the contribution of

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Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

With A Face to the Public
Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Arabic Website Takes Off
15 publications in Arabic - ranging from environmental education to paint sheets for children, news items and, of course, opportunities for public inquiry. In light of the unexpected demand for the site (from just over 1,000 surfers in the beginning of the year to over 10,000 by its end), the ministry is planning to convert it into a dynamic site in 2005 and to include a special corner for the country’s Arabic environmental units, which implement environmental policy on the local level and serve as advisory bodies to the local authority on environmental issues. What’s more, in light of the fact that some 40% of the country’s Arab population includes schoolchildren below the age of 14, education will be a major theme. The rationale: today’s youth can serve as an agent of change, transforming environmental issues into central issues on the agenda of the Arabic sector.
Surfers to Arabic Website
12,000
10,400 10,123 8,379 7,941 7,839 6,714

Treating lifethreatening hotspots

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Reducing air pollution from transportation and industrial sources

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Nearly 200,000 surfers accessed the Environment Ministry’s websites in December 2004 - a threefold increase over the same period last year. And it’s no wonder. In keeping with the ministry’s policy of transparency and public participation, the websites offer something for everyone - young and old, Hebrew, English and Arabic speakers. In a country as small as Israel, the very fact that such a large segment of the population surfed on the Environment Ministry’s websites - just in order to find environmental information - is an achievement of the first degree. A special highlight this year was the development of the Arabic website www.environment.gov.il/arabic. Although this is the newest of the ministry’s websites, targeted at the Arabic-speaking population, results far exceeded expectations. The site, initially launched in December 2003, as a static site, first included some 120 selected pages which were translated into Arabic. The idea was to provide Israel’s Arabic speaking population with environmental information. However, with time it became clear that surfers hail from the world over, with some 40% from 19 countries outside of Israel including the USA, Saudi Arabia, Oman and others. Today, the site includes general information about the ministry and environmental policy, 14 environmental subjects,

Catalyzing economic growth and national interests through sustainable development

10,000 8,000 6,000 4,000 2,000 0
1,168 3,719

4,581 3,165 3,087 3,402

Jan. 2004

Feb. 2004

Mar. 2004

Apr. 2004

May 2004

June 2004

Junly 2004

Aug. 2004

Sep. 2004

Oct. 2004

Nov. 2004

Dec. 2004

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

Number of Surfers to Environment Ministry’s Websites
200,000 180,000 160,000 140,000 120,000 100,000 80,000 60,000 40,000 20,000 0
December 2002
197,407

37,202 24,656 5,746

Children’s Site December 2004

All Websites

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ISRAEL ENVIRONMENT BULLETIN. January 2005

Environmental Legislation
Protection of the Coastal Environment Law: A Landmark in the Protection of a Precious Public Resource
It was a long struggle, five years in the making, but on August 4, 2004, the Knesset enacted the Law for the Protection of the Coastal Environment. For the Ministry of the Environment and green organizations throughout Israel, which fought long and hard to develop and enact the law, the occasion marked a landmark in the recognition that the coastal environment is a unique and precious resource that must be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public. The stated aims of the law, which include three elements, say it all: • To protect the coastal environment, its natural and heritage assets, to restore and preserve them as a resource of unique value, and to prevent and reduce as far as possible any damage to them; • To preserve the coastal environment and the coastal sand for the benefit and enjoyment of the public, for this and future generations; • To establish principles and limitations for the sustainable management, development and use of the coastal environment. Under the law, sea and shore are considered one integral unit which extends from Israel’s territorial waters to 300 meters inland. This entire area is considered a public resource which is to be preserved and protected from damage. To do this, the law sets out several major provisions, as follows: • Prohibition of damage to the coastal environment; • Assurance of an open public right of way along the entire length of the shore area; • Possibility for the Minister of the Environment to impose a fee for the protection of the coastal environment on owners or holders of coastal facilities considered to cause damage to the coastal environment, which will be paid to the Maintenance of Cleanliness Fund; • Possibility for the Minister of the Environment to issue an order to prevent or remove environmental damage so as to restore the coastal environment to its former state; • Possibility for the Minister of the Environment to appoint inspectors to supervise the implementation of the law’s provisions; • Imposition of severe penalties for damage to the coastal environment; • Establishment of a Protection of the Coastal Environment Committee, which will be responsible for decisions on coastal development plans, taking into account such considerations as preventing damage to the coastal environment, preserving the coast for public benefit, assuring public access to the coast and conserving nature, landscape and heritage values. The law has a strong planning orientation. It sets out to stop rampant building along the shoreline, an all too frequent phenomenon in Israel, and places implementation in the hands of a 17member Committee for the Protection of the Coastal Environment, a third of whose members are environmental representatives. The professional committee is mandated to review every plan falling within the coastal environment according to criteria which are defined in the law and express its objectives. One of the main proponents of the law was the late Environment Minister Prof. Yehudith Naot who fought an unrelenting battle for the preservation of the country’s Mediterranean coast. Immediately upon the enactment of the law, she stated: "In recent years, we were witness to difficult and painful damages to the Mediterranean coastlines. Building plans along the coastline allowed those holding the purse strings to encroach into those few pieces of open coastline which still remained and were meant to be accessible to each and every member of the general public, no matter what their economic status. This natural resource is becoming more precious than gold and I am proud that this law will preserve the little that is left of this rare resource".
Photos: Galia Pasternak, Ilan Malester

www.environment.gov.il

Enactment of the law marked a landmark in the recognition that the coastal environment is a unique and precious resource that must be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public

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Environmental Enforcement
Recent court rulings call for strict penalties and high fines - underlining the growing recognition of the severity of environmental offenses in Israel
Groundwater Contamination by Fuel The Tel-Aviv Magistrate’s Court imposed a NIS 450,000 fine on a major energy company for groundwater contamination. According to the indictment, the defendants discovered a fuel leak from the gas station in 1999, but did not take the necessary steps to report the incident, stop the pollution and clean up the contamination. Samples from an observation well at the site subsequently revealed large amounts of fuels and chemicals, many of them toxic. In addition, a 46 cm thick layer of freefloating oil was found on the surface of the groundwater which threatened to contaminate water wells in the vicinity. In a plea bargain agreement the company was fined NIS 450,000 and signed an undertaking in the sum of NIS 900,000 to refrain from a similar offense for a three-year period. It was also ordered to comply with additional obligations including replacement of its entire old infrastructure and identification, treatment and rehabilitation of the soil and water which were contaminated by the station. Sewage Discharge to the Sea by a Municipality The Nahariya Magistrate’s Court convicted the Muncipality of Nahariya and the person serving as mayor in the 1990s of discharging raw sewage to the sea. While the city had a permit to discharge its sewage to the sea between 1993 and 1997, the permit was conditional on the presentation of a detailed timetable for the establishment of a wastewater treatment plant. As part of a plea bargain agreement, the municipality was fined NIS 400,000 and signed an undertaking for the same sum to refrain from similar offenses for a twoyear period. The mayor paid a fine of NIS 8,000. All of the fines were paid to the Marine Pollution Prevention Fund. Air Pollution from Industrial Plant The Beersheba Magistrate’s Court convicted a major industrial plant, Bromine Compounds in Ramat Hovav, of polluting the air and violating the business licensing conditions set by the Ministry of the Environment. Surprise checks by the ministry revealed major exceedances of the air quality standards which were set in the conditions. As part of a plea bargain agreement, the industrial plant was fined NIS 500,000 and signed an undertaking in the sum of NIS 800,000 to refrain from a similar offense for a three-year period. The fine was paid to the Maintenance of Cleanliness Fund.

Air Pollution from Phosphate Dust The Eilat Magistrate’s court convicted the Ports Authority of non-compliance with a Ministry of the Environment order which specified measures to prevent air pollution in the Port of Eilat from the loading and unloading of phosphates and potash. Although the order required the Ports Authority to seal the conveyor in 1995 and to install the necessary equipment and facilities by 1998, these instructions were only carried out in 2001. Non-compliance resulted in emissions of phosphate and potash dust during unloading and loading activities in the port. In a plea bargain agreement, the Port Authority was fined NIS 450,000 and the funds were transferred to the Maintenance of Cleanliness Fund.

Water Pollution and Littering The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court convicted the Gihon Water and Sewage Enterprise Ltd. of discharging sewage, endangering groundwater and littering the public domain. The company was fined NIS 330,000 and signed an undertaking for double this amount to refrain from similar offenses during a three-year period.

ISRAEL ENVIRONMENT BULLETIN. January 2005

Ruth Rotenberg: Enforcement
Legal Advisor - Head of the Legal Department

www.environment.gov.il

Accomplishing meaningful results in environmental enforcement involves setting goals and targets and meeting them. Our ultimate goal is, of course, to improve the quality of the environment, stop pollution and repair environmental damage. Our legal tool for achieving this goal is, inter alia, criminal enforcement. Obviously, within the criminal justice system, our target is to achieve the maximum number of convictions and the most severe punishments, including heavy penalties. Furthermore, in order to repair environmental damage, we apply to the courts to include in their rulings decrees and injunctions which call on polluters to take various relevant measures such as to close waste dumps, cease discharge of wastewater, or monitor fuel leaks from gas stations. This approach has demonstrated positive outcomes and resulted in the solution of environmental problems. It led, for example, to the establishment and operation of wastewater treatment plants throughout the country and to the closure or upgrading of waste dumps. We realize and regret that there are many local authorities and corporations that, despite repeated negotiations and warnings, would not have solved environmental problems if not for facing criminal suits. Another, and not less important result of such court rulings, is their deterrent effect on companies and local authorities, which causes them to take the necessary measures to prevent future offenses and avoid facing criminal prosecution. Statistics demonstrate a positive trend in the outcomes of our criminal enforcement system, particularly in the two following aspects - a significant increase in penalties, especially higher fines (but also additional penalties such as imprisonment and suspended sentences), and a substantial number of personal convictions of managers of corporations and mayors of local authorities. Thus, for example, by the end of 2004, out of 101 court rulings there were 34 personal convictions of corporation and local authority officials. Moreover, figures show a constant impressive record of convictions - about 98%. Over the past four years, the number of cases handled annually has remained more or less constant, but fine levels have increased substantially (more than tripling between 2001 and 2004), as shown in the following statistics, which relate to the annual number of cases and the total annual fines imposed by the courts (in Israeli shekels): • 2001 82 cases NIS 2,713,200 • 2002 93 cases NIS 4,895,409 • 2003 113 cases NIS 6,476,571 • 2004 101 cases NIS 9,285,620 These figures reflect both the increasingly high professional level of case preparation and conduct, as well as recognized changes in the approach of the courts to the importance of environmental issues and offenses.

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photo: Oz Golan

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