State of Israel Ministry of the Environment

ENVIRONMENT BULLETIN
Ministry of the Environment

September

2005
volume 29

Cover: "Clean Coast" Project Poster

Open Space

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The Asbestos Problem

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www.environment.gov.il

From the Minister of the Environment: Mr. Shalom Simhon Environment Minister Simhon speaks about his plans for a more environmental future. Onwards Toward Cleaner Coasts Israel launches a "Clean Coast" project to keep its beaches litter free. Open Space in Israel? Government agencies and green bodies set out to preserve quality open spaces in the face of growing pressures for development. Toward Metropolitan Parks: The Case of the Ayalon Park Government approval of the Ayalon Park should see the transformation of the Hiriya garbage mountain into a unique metropolitan park in the center of the country. Open Spaces in Urban Places Local authorities, NGOs and citizen groups are promoting plans for a hierarchy of parks and gardens in urban centers. The Water Connection Water links two projects initiated by Friends of the Earth Middle East: "Crossing the Jordan" and "Good Water Neighbors." Confronting the Asbestos Problem An in-depth look at the asbestos problem in Israel and the efforts currently underway to find a solution. Dairy Farms Go Green Major environmental improvements are achieved as a result of a reform in the dairy sector. International Cooperation An interview with Mr. Paul Mifsud, Coordinator of the Mediterranean Action Plan. With a Face to the Public Cellular Antennas: Toward Greater Transparency.

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Dear Reader:
The September 2005 Israel Environment Bulletin, Volume 29, focuses on what may well be one of Israel’s most important - and most threatened – resource: open space. Since the loss of open space to development is an irreversible process, decisions on which areas can be transformed into built-up areas and which areas should be preserved as open space are of critical importance. Environmental and green organizations are hard at work, along with planning agencies, to find ways to preserve quality open spaces on the national, regional and local levels. The current issue of the Bulletin looks at some of these initiatives. Yet another major focus is the cleanliness campaign launched by the Ministry of the Environment in the Summer of 2005. It is only apt that first priority should be given to the country’s coastlines. The "Clean Coast" project seeks to increase public awareness of the importance of cleanliness along the country’s beaches so as to bring an end to littering once and for all. Major attention is also focused on Israel’s asbestos problem and the measures currently being taken to confront the problem, including training of contractors and inspectors, guidelines on safe removal and disposal and information to the public on asbestos exposure. As always, the information in this Bulletin is supplemented by our English website -www.environment.gov.il/english, which is constantly being updated to provide new information on major environmental topics and breaking news items. At the dawn of the Jewish New Year, Israel Environment Bulletin wishes all of its readers a clean and prosperous new year. Shoshana Gabbay Editor

Cover photo: "Going for a Clean Coast" campaign poster Back Cover photo: Ilan Malester Photos: Ministry of the Environment, Carol Avraham, Amir Balaban, Avner Barzilai, Gidi Bettelheim, Yossi Harel (Nature and Parks Authority), Michal Ben-Shushan, Judy Elispor, Friends of the Earth Middle East, Gerar Gal-Or, Itamar Grinberg, Alex Kaplan, Ilan Malester, Eyal Mitrani, Shai Pe’er, Motti Sela, Chagai Shyowitz, Danny Sternberg, Sasson Tiram, Eyal Yaffe Design: Studio Billet

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Production: Publications Unit Ministry of the Environment

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From The Minister Of The Environment Mr. Shalom Simhon
the time has now come for its implementation. Substantial investments are needed to ensure rehabilitation and wise treatment of industrial wastes and air pollution in this area in order to improve environmental quality and expedite development plans for the Negev, including the establishment of an IDF "training and instruction city" in the region. In Haifa Bay and the Kishon River, an overall solution is needed for such major issues as river restoration and treatment of air, sewage, sludge, and more. I am working on a government decision on this pollution "hotspot' that will make the treatment of environmental hazards in Haifa Bay a national project and will enable the population to co-exist in harmony with industry. What are your priorities for the near future? With the help of the additional funds that I have been able to secure for the Ministry of the Environment, I will give priority to several projects. Firstly, I believe that environmental education should start as early as possible in the school system in order to lay the necessary social infrastructure to prevent environmental pollution. I have therefore called for the establishment of a National Council for Environmental Education, in cooperation with government, academic, industrial and green bodies, which will enable us to invest in education and not only in enforcement. Another major priority is the long-term cleanliness campaign which was launched this summer, with first priority going to the "Clean Coast" project.

Environment Minister Shalom Simhon spoke to Israel Environment Bulletin in July 2005 about his priorities and related, among other things, to preparations for disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

Your time in office coincides with Israel’s preparations for disengagement from the Gaza Strip. What are the environmental impacts of this decision? I have been actively involved in the subject of disengagement from Gaza, which is a major political issue with environmental ramifications, since I entered office. There are two major environmental issues which relate to the disengagement plan: disposal of construction and demolition waste and treatment and disposal of hazardous substances including asbestos. I originally petitioned the Prime Minister to leave the homes of the Gaza evacuees standing in order to prevent environmental impacts associated with infrastructure destruction, demolition waste and asbestos. However, since the decision to demolish the buildings was taken, I have called for the safe disposal of hazardous substances, especially asbestos. Contractors will be required to dismantle asbestos structures in accordance with strict environmental guidelines and to remove this asbestos waste for landfilling in Israel. What are the major projects you will seek to advance as Minister of the Environment? I am focusing on two major – and expensive – projects, which deal with the pollution "hotspots" of Israel: Haifa and Ramat Hovav. In Ramat Hovav, we already have a government decision on an action plan for pollution abatement, and

With the right plans, we will be able to pass government decisions which will shape our environment for generations to come

From left to right: Ilan Malester, Motti Sela, Amir Balaban, Ilan Malester

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How would you like to leave your stamp on the Environment Ministry and on the environment in Israel?
Lilies along the coast. Photo: Yossi Harel, Nature and Parks Authority

The implementation of this comprehensive campaign to clean up our environment is one of my major aims as Minister of the Environment. I am sure that the joint efforts of local authorities, government ministries and the public will bring about a significant improvement in the cleanliness level of our beaches.

The additional funds allocated to the Ministry of the Environment will help advance essential programs including clean-ups and river restoration

On the local front, I have doubled the budget of local environmental units and have called for additional units, with special emphasis on the rural and Arab sectors. I can also report on progress in the area of radiation, which is a major concern in Israel. After a struggle of more than four years, our proposal for a Non-Ionizing Radiation Law, which will give us the necessary professional and administrative tools to effectively address the subject, is being advanced. In addition, in order to make information about cell sites accessible to all members of the public, our website features information about the location of existing as well as planned base stations (antennas) throughout the country.

I have tried to promote several projects since I first entered into office: • A government decision on the establishment of the Ayalon Park which will afford the residents of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area a much-needed "green lung" instead of more real estate. • A master plan for the country’s rivers which will integrate different components – environment, landscape, tourism and return to nature. • The expansion of our Deposit Law on Beverage Containers to larger bottles. • Cleanup of our open spaces, especially of construction and demolition waste. • Preparation of a national plan for the rehabilitation of shut-down landfills in cooperation with other ministries and the subsequent utilization of their economic and social potential. • Rehabilitation of contaminated soil and groundwater as a result of leaks from fuel pipes and storage tanks in gas stations in cooperation with other ministries. If we are wise enough to develop the right plans, environmentally, socially and economically, we will be able to help pass government resolutions whose implementation may well take years but which will shape the character of our environment for generations to come.

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Environment Minister Shalom Simhon launches the cleanliness campaign. Photo: Sasson Tiran

"Going for Cleanliness – It’s Our Country"
On July 25, 2005, Environment Minister Shalom Simhon launched a comprehensive information campaign to promote cleanliness in public areas. Simhon has repeatedly stressed that increasing the public’s awareness of cleanliness is one of his main goals as Minister of the Environment. In the first stage, the campaign will focus on beach cleanliness, later to be followed by cleanups of parks, nature reserves, forests and open spaces. The campaign was prompted by the results of a survey conducted among 1,000 adult respondents which revealed that 62% of the public thinks that Israel should invest additional resources in cleanliness and that citizens rate the level of cleanliness in the country as very low. The campaign, organized by the Government Advertising Agency (Lapam) on behalf of the Ministry of the Environment, will utilize the media – television, radio and internet - and will see the posting of about 500 billboards throughout the country.

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Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Photo: Ilan Malester

Treating life-threatening hotspots

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

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Onwards Toward Cleaner Coasts
and the general public, launched a "Clean Coast" project on June 20, 2005. The project, targeted at keeping the country’s coastlines litter free, represents the first part of an ambitious and longterm campaign aimed at keeping Israel clean. At the request of Environment Minister Shalom Simhon, the Finance Ministry has agreed to allocate NIS 3 million a year for the next three years for the project. Project Components Previous cleanup campaigns have not been successful in maintaining cleanliness along these beaches in the long term. The current project promises to be different. Within its framework, undeclared beaches will be cleaned with the joint financing of the Ministry of the Environment (70%) and local authorities (30%), and will be supplemented by education. Project components will include: • Routine cleanups by local authorities. • Information and publicity. • Enforcement against polluters of the coasts. • Educational activities in schools and youth

A "Clean Coast" project promises to keep Israel's beaches litter free Israel’s open undeclared beaches – those beaches in which there are no lifeguards and bathing is forbidden - span some 130 kilometers out of Israel’s 190 kilometer long Mediterranean coastal strip and 14 kilometers along the Gulf of Eilat. These coastal strips are characterized by a rich and wide diversity of flora and fauna and are a cultural, economic and environmental resource. Most importantly, they provide vital rest and recreation areas to a large part of the country's population. Yet neglect and litter have long plagued these undeclared beaches, most of which are located within the jurisdiction of local authorities. While about a third of the waste originates at sea, the public is responsible for the other two-thirds. Some 70% of the waste left behind by vacationers consists of plastic, which may take up to 400-500 years to degrade!!! To tackle the problem, the Ministry of the Environment, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority, local authorities

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

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movements. "Coast Watch" Volunteers In order to enlarge the circle of participants in the "Clean Coast" project, the Ministry of the Environment has called on the public to pitch in. An initial cadre of volunteers has already been created under the guidance of the Marine and Coastal Environment Division. "Coast Watch" volunteers contribute several hours a month to the project and participate in such activities as education and enforcement on beaches on weekends, cleanup campaigns and promotion of community action. Indicators of Success In order to assess cleanliness levels on Israel's undeclared beaches and measure the success of the project, a clean coast index was developed. This objective parameter, based on the amount of plastic waste on the beach, aims to provide a uniform and unbiased assessment of the cleanliness level of Israel's beaches over time. In parallel, a more comprehensive "coastal rating" has been developed which ranks all of the country’s undeclared beaches in terms of several indicators: water quality, frequency of cleanups, access to the coast, nature and heritage assets and public feedback. The clean coast index is already demonstrating improvements in many of the country's undeclared beaches. In parallel, weekend information and enforcement activities in selected beaches are raising awareness of the subject. Towards a Cleaner Coast While it is clear that the financial aid provided by the Ministry of the Environment to local authorities should help them rid their beaches of unsightly waste, cleanups alone are not enough. Ultimate responsibility for beach cleanliness rests with the public. It is up to each and every individual to stop littering. It is up to each and every individual to ensure that the Mediterranean and Red Sea coastlines are protected not only today, but tomorrow as well.

Did You Know? • Israel's Mediterranean coastline stretches some 190 kilometers from north to south. • Out of the 190-kilometer long Mediterranean coastline, some 50 kilometers are closed to the public because they are used for ports, power stations, infrastructure and defense uses. • 95 kilometers of the remaining open coastline are either built up or planned for building. • Only 53 kilometers of open natural shores remain along Israel's Mediterranean coast. • In 1948, when Israel was established, each citizen of Israel had 31 cm of coast; today only 2.5 cm of coast remain per citizen. • Some 70% of the population lives along the Mediterranean coastal strip • The Mediterranean coastline includes 87 declared beaches (with lifeguard services), spanning some 13.3 kilometers only 6.7% of the Mediterranean coastline. Most of these beaches (about 70) are located within city bounds. • The Mediterranean coastline includes some 130 kilometers of undeclared beaches.

Ultimate responsibility for beach cleanliness rests with the public

Acre beaches: Before Cleanup. Photo: Hilik Klosky After Cleanup. Photo: Ilan Swissa

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RONEN ALKALAY ON THE CLEAN COAST PROJECT
Marine Inspector, Marine and Coastal Environment Division How does this campaign differ from previous ones? This campaign is different because it integrates both treatment and prevention and is based on a partnership between local authorities, the Ministry of the Environment, the Nature and Parks Authority and the general public.
Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

There are three aspects to the litter problem. We know that it is easier to discard waste on a beach which is already littered than on a clean beach. It is much harder to discard a plastic bag, ice cream stick or soda can on a pristine beach. Therefore the first aspect of our campaign is to clean up our beaches. To make this happen, the Ministry of the Environment is providing financial aid to local authorities to help them clean up undeclared beaches in their jurisdiction. Secondly, we are committed to educating the public which uses the beach. The idea is to work with them, not against them. Therefore, marine inspectors of the Ministry of the Environment along with inspectors of the Nature and Parks Authority and volunteers from the general public spend weekends on the beach, distributing garbage bags and speaking to people in an effort to drive the message home. Thus, the second aspect of the campaign is to keep the beaches clean, to stop people from littering. The third aspect is ongoing education within the formal and informal education systems, based on the belief that in order to get long-term results we have to first focus on our youth – especially on the youngest ages between kindergarten and sixth grade. At this age children are impressionable and are ready to assimilate the message. They have no problem in turning to their parents and telling them to stop littering and clean up. Can we point to any improvements? We have seen improvements in many of our beaches as demonstrated by the weekly index on beach cleanliness which is published on our Hebrew website. Yet it would be arrogant for me to say that a revolution has already occurred. The task before us is long and hard. As far as I am concerned, the indicator for success will not be a cleaner beach but rather a beach where people do not litter. In the past, we put our emphasis on coastal cleanup campaigns which focused on the number of tons of garbage which were collected. Today the emphasis is on prevention. We now realize that the litter problem can only be solved by means of education targeted at changing public attitudes and behavior. What are your hopes for the future? We are short of human resources and our budget is inadequate, but the major problem is lack of public awareness. If we could get to every person on the beach and find the right words to impress upon him or her the importance of keeping the beach clean, we will have achieved our goal. In this respect, we are very lucky to have a dedicated group of volunteers helping us – a "Coast Watch." They come from every location and represent every sector of Israeli society. One is the daughter of a lifeguard for whom the beach was a second home since she was two years old; another is an immigrant pensioner, with a doctorate in material engineering, whose daily walks on the beach are part of his daily routine; yet another is a dentistry student studying abroad who spends his summer weekends on the beach. All share a love of the sea and a strong commitment to do something about the litter problem. But everyone can do something about keeping our beaches clean. If every person would make just a small contribution, together we could accomplish a lot and keep our coasts clean for the benefit and pleasure of all who use them.

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Treating life-threatening hotspots

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

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Cormorants at Achziv. Photo: Gidi Bettelheim

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Open Space In Israel?
for 1998 based on aerial photographs and observations (Moti Kaplan et al). In parallel, a review of open space landscapes was conducted based on national master plans and a statistical analysis of agricultural areas by the Central Bureau of Statistics. The results revealed that Israel’s built-up area encompasses some 1,310 square kilometers or 6% of the land area of the country – some 80% for residential purposes in cities, suburbs and rural areas. However, population density is not evenly distributed and the built-up area is not efficiently utilized. In fact, some 80% of the population resides in half of the built up space while only 20% occupies the other half. Open spaces – including nature reserves, national parks, landscape reserves, forests, riversides, agricultural areas and other spaces such as fallow fields – constitute some 94% of the total land area of the country. However, only nature reserves, national parks and forests are protected by legislation or by statutory master plans. The rest of the country's open space – including agricultural areas and fallow fields – is either unprotected or minimally protected and therefore subject to constant pressure for development.

As pressures for building and development mount, government agencies and green bodies set out to preserve quality open spaces

Open space, or more accurately, the lack of it, looms high on the country’s environmental agenda. In fact, open space may well be Israel’s most important – and most threatened – resource. The transformation of Israel into one of the world’s most densely populated countries has carried a heavy toll in terms of both quality of life and the environment. Green lungs as well as leisure and recreation areas have dwindled, penetration of rain into groundwater has been hampered, and natural and heritage values have been destroyed. Under conditions of land scarcity and development pressures, planners have been forced to grapple with the question of which areas may be transformed into built-up areas and which should remain as open space. Since the loss of open space to development is an irreversible process, these decisions are of critical importance. Open Vs. Built-Up Space: The Facts In order to chart a path to the future, knowledge of the present is necessary. Therefore, an assessment of the distribution of built-up space was made

Open space may well be Israel’s most threatened resource

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Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

spaces according to the following criteria: vulnerability, continuity and functionality. The integration of these criteria provided a basis for delineating the "value" of open spaces throughout the country. This methodology has been crucial in helping to direct development to areas with relatively low value while preserving high value open spaces and was implemented in the Integrated Master Plan for Building, Planning and Conservation (Plan 35) and in regional master plans. From Surveys to Plans In recent years, both governmental and green bodies have carried out comprehensive surveys on national and regional scales in order to identify open spaces worthy of preservation. On the basis of these surveys, policy proposals for conservation and sustainable development were prepared for areas such as the Jerusalem Hills and Judean Plain, the Negev and coastal sand areas. Ecological Corridors as Conservation Tools: Based on an ecosystem assessment of open natural landscapes, the Nature and Parks Authority prepared recommendations for the protection of ecological corridors which provide conduits for the passage of animals and plants in a fragmented landscape and allow for the exchange of genetic material with neighboring populations. The assessment highlighted the importance of two rare and threatened ecosystems: aquatic ecosystems and the sand and kurkar rocks along the Mediterranean shoreline. It also recommended four major axes for protection as ecological corridors. Open Space Survey: The National Board for Planning and Building commissioned an open space survey,
cont. p.12

Treating life-threatening hotspots

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

Determining the Value of Open Spaces Recognition of the growing threat to the country's open spaces has led Israel's green bodies to band together in a campaign to preserve open spaces. As part of the campaign, countrywide studies and surveys were conducted to assess the importance of open spaces in terms of their characteristics and intrinsic potential for a variety of functions. Within the framework of Israel 2020, the non-statutory master plan for the 21st century, the Ministry of the Environment prepared open space sensitivity maps which classified and characterized open

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LEGAL LANDMARKS IN OPEN SPACE PROTECTION

Facts to Remember
• Since its establishment in 1948 until today, Israel's population has increased more than eightfold – reaching 6.9 million in 2005. • Average population growth in recent years is about 2%. • More than 90% of the population resides in urban centers. • Average population density reached 304 per square kilometer in 2004 – nearly 40% more than in 1990. • By 2020, the population is expected to reach some 8.4 million and population density may reach 858 people per square kilometer north of Beersheba. • By 2020, floor space per person in Israel is expected to reach 40 meters per person – double that today. • In 1998, the built-up space in Israel totaled 1,300 square kilometers – 6% of the land area of the country. • The most densely populated regions in Israel are Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The most sparsely populated are the north and south. • The Negev, in the south of the country, makes up about twothirds of the total land area but only 2% of the built area. • Out of 366 square kilometers of sand which existed along the coastal plain in the beginning of the 20th century, only 190 square kilometers remain, of which only 110 are undisturbed. Nearly half of the undisturbed sand is designated for development by national and regional plans. • The national master plan for forests designates 1,620 square kilometers for forests – about 7% of the total area of the country. • The national master plan for nature reserves and national parks designates more than 20% of the land area of the country for protected areas. • Most of Israel's nature reserves are in the south of the country (covering nearly 20% of the Negev) and only 3% are in the Mediterranean area.
Carmel landscape. Photo: Michal Ben-Shushan

• 1951: Preparation of Israel’s first physical plan, under the direction of architect Arieh Sharon, which relates to development and population dispersal, but also to the allocation of land for nature reserves and parks. • 1963: Enactment of the National Parks and Nature Reserves Law (revised in 1992 and 1998 and 2004), which provides the legal framework for the conservation of the country’s natural and cultural heritage. • 1981: Government approval of the National Master Plan for National Parks and Nature Reserves (Plan 8), which sets aside more than 20% of the land area of the country for conservation. • 1990-1997: Preparation of Israel 2020 – Israel’s non-statutory master plan for the 21st century, which placed the issue of open space depletion on the national agenda. • 1993: Government approval of the National Master Plan for Building, Development and Immigrant Absorption (Plan 31), a five-year plan which allowed the absorption of a million immigrants from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s while providing for open space protection. The plan will remain valid until government approval of the National Master Plan for Building, Development and Conservation (Plan 35). • 1996: Approval of the National Master Plan for Afforestation (Plan 22), which protects 1,600 square kilometers of planted forests and natural woodlands. • 1990s: Preparation and approval of regional master plans, giving greater priority to conservation-worthy areas including rivers and their environs and metropolitan parks. • 2004: Enactment of the Law for the Protection of the Coastal Environment, aimed at protecting and preserving the Mediterranean coastal environment and its natural assets. • 2004: Initiation of a National Master Plan on Rivers and Drainage, highlighting the preservation and restoration of rivers and their vicinity for both ecological and recreational purposes. • 2005: Approval of the Integrated National Master Plan for Building, Development and Conservation (Plan 35) by the National Board for Planning and Building. The plan, initiated in the mid-1990s, gives equal weight to open spaces and to built spaces or areas designated for development. It divides the country into different "textures" and distinguishes between different levels of development worthy areas and conservation worthy areas.

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Improving the environment and preserving open spaces
Golan landscape. Photo: Ilan Malester

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

published in 2000, which provides information on precipitation, soil groups, rivers and watersheds, open space with statutory protection, bird nesting and activity areas, and scenic routes. In parallel, it surveys factors that have an impact on the natural environment such as transportation, energy infrastructures, water, sewage and solid waste as well as the built environment. Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Coastal Sand: The Ministry of the Environment, Nature and Parks Authority, Jewish National Fund, Society for the Protection of Nature and Hydrological Service published a policy document in 2003 on the preservation and sustainable development of coastal sand landscapes. Based on the classification of different blocks of coastal sand, planning principles were formulated. The Rivers of Israel: Policy and Planning Principles: This policy paper, published in 2004 by the Ministry of the Environment, summarizes the experience of ten years of river planning and restoration in Israel along with the experience accumulated in other countries. The document emphasizes the place of rivers in national planning and their function as central axes in the open space system. Planning principles relate to the hydrological, ecological and social aspects of river restoration. Preserving Open Spaces in Israel – Policy and Tools: This document, published in 2003 by the Society for the Protection of Nature, Nature and Parks Authority, Ministry of the Environment, Jewish National Fund and Planning Administration of the Ministry of the Interior, aims to define national policy and operational tools to preserve and use the country’s open spaces in a sustainable manner, which ensures the needs of present and future generations while preserving nature, landscapes, environmental functions and human heritage. The document relates to economic, legislative, social, and other tools.

Alona landscape. Photo: Michal Ben-Shushan

Treating life-threatening hotspots

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Judean Plain Biosphere Reserve: This report, published in 2004 by the Ministry of the Interior, National Land Authority, Ministry of the Environment, Nature and Parks Authority and Jewish National Fund proposes a comprehensive plan for a biosphere reserve in the Judean Plain, a transition zone between the Judean mountains and the coastal plain and a boundary between the humid and the arid areas of the country. Planning guidelines determine development and conservation possibilities in each of the five zones which were delineated - a preserved core, a controlled core, a controlled buffer, an integrated buffer, and a transition zone. On the Road Toward Implementation When it was first established in 1948, some 850,000 people inhabited the State of Israel and population density was a mere 43 per square kilometer. The objective at the time was to "conquer the wilderness" or in the words of a popular song to "dress the land in concrete and cement." Times have changed. Open spaces are no longer seen as mere reserves for development. They are beginning to be recognized as possessing their own intrinsic value. The objective among planners today is to preserve contiguous open belts alongside rivers from source to mouth, safeguard agricultural and rural landscapes, protect shorelines and develop parks and gardens for the benefit of the population. With the groundwork in place, the time for implementation has begun.

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

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MOTI KAPLAN ON OPEN SPACES
Environmental and Regional Planner What is Israel doing to preserve open spaces outside of urban areas? One initiative, for example, relates to the preservation of agricultural areas, which make up the lion’s share of open spaces in Israel. There is a lot of pressure to convert these areas into built up areas, but it is in the national interest to preserve our agricultural areas as much as possible. Alona landscape. Photo: Michal Ben-Shushan Fortunately, with the help of the Fund for the Advancement of Landscape and Environmental Values in Israeli Agricultural Regions, surveys and research studies have been initiated which look beyond At the same time, we must find ways to preserve quality open the economic aspect of agriculture to its landscape, visual, spaces. Fortunately, Israel’s planning agencies understand this. It ecological and cultural value. is now time for decision makers to understand this as well and not I am now working on the theoretical basis for the preservation to allow the random dispersal of building and development. of agricultural landscapes. The idea is to map and identify How can we ensure that quality open spaces will be preserved for present Israel’s agricultural landscapes - wheat in the Negev, terraces and future generations? in the Judean Mountains, vineyards in the north - and then Over the next two decades, some 60,000 hectares will be to assess and valuate them in terms of their contribution to transformed from open space to built up space - in addition landscape, culture, tourism, etc. We have already identified to the 130,000 hectares which are already built up. While this some 20-30 agricultural forms which tell a local story and development is needed to meet the legitimate needs of the reflect different periods and cultures. Hopefully this will give population, we must find ways to direct development to specific legitimacy to the conservation of agricultural landscapes. areas, such as the metropolitan area of Beersheba, while assuring that the urban population will enjoy all of the necessary What is Israel doing to ensure that those areas identified as worthy of services in terms of infrastructure, employment, education, and preservation will indeed be preserved? more. The idea is to preserve the continuity of our open spaces The National Master Plan for Building, Development and without fragmenting them. For this reason, planning should first Conservation identified a series of scenic open spaces concentrate on saturating existing urban entities and the areas which are especially worthy of preservation, which require directly adjacent to them. We have to relate to the urban fabric the preparation of detailed plans. They include Bikat HaNadiv more seriously, to preserve and enhance what already exists and its vicinity, the Shiqma River, the Ayalon River and the rather than seek "quick fixes" to the problems of neglected and Poleg River. deteriorating urban spaces by destroying open spaces. Why is the issue of open spaces so important? It is our responsibility to leave open spaces for the benefit of future generations. Private interests, however legitimate, cannot rob future generations of their right to open space. Land, unlike any other resource, is irreplaceable. Demand will always exceed supply. Therefore, we have to be more tightfisted in our allocation of land for building and development. How can we revitalize our cities? One of the things we are working on is the rehabilitation of urban rivers. Until now urban rivers were viewed as negative factors – infested with mosquitoes and wastes, associated with flooding and neglect. The idea is to highlight the enormous potential of urban rivers as green lungs which respond to the social, cultural and psychological needs of city residents. Rivers can improve the city image, provide a sense of belonging, draw investments and tourism, and provide a meeting and recreation point for residents. We must provide planners, city engineers and ecologists with the opportunity to bring nature into the city. I am currently working on the detailed plan for the Bikat HaNadiv region, situated between the metropolitan areas of Tel Aviv and Haifa. This is the first area for which a detailed plan is being formulated and as such will serve as a model for other preservation worthy areas. It was chosen due to the multitude of values which characterize it – agriculture, archaeology, sea, nature and prime location – all of which combine to make it especially susceptible to development pressures. The challenge is to determine land uses for this region which protect its unique features while allowing for controlled and balanced development.

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Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Toward Metropolitan Parks:
Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

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The Case Of The Ayalon Park

From garbage mountain to flowering park: transforming vision into reality A new term has been introduced into Israel's planning jargon – metropolitan parks. Throughout the country – in the Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv and central regions – metropolitan parks have begun to appear on planning maps. In the central region of the country alone, no less than eight metropolitan parks have been designated. What is a metropolitan park? How does it differ from an urban park, national park or nature reserve? These are some of the questions addressed in an ongoing study initiated in 2002 by the Ministry of the Environment, the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. According to the interim conclusions, a metropolitan park is a large open area, characterized by a variety of natural and landscape features and/or by continuous open areas such as large expanses of agricultural land, which responds to social needs for recreation and leisure. Metropolitan parks are rooted in regional plans and are situated in close proximity to urban centers but not within city bounds, thus serving as buffers between built-up urban entities. The Ayalon Park: A Park in the Making The Ayalon Park is a salient example of a metropolitan park in the making. The April 2005 government decision to establish the 800-hectare Ayalon Park was a major victory not only for the country's green organizations, which battled long and hard for the park, but for the 1.5 million residents of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.

A major landmark in the planned Ayalon Park will be the rehabilitated Hiriya landfill which served the Tel Aviv metropolitan area for fifty years until it was closed down in 1998. This geometrically shaped landfill looks like a table mountain, with steep slopes descending into the banks of the two rivers surrounding it – the Ayalon River and
View from Hiriya. Photographer: Danny Sternberg

Treating life-threatening hotspots

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Metropolitan Parks – Goals and Aims
• To address social needs for leisure and recreation in close proximity to major urban areas. • To preserve continuous open spaces as buffers between built-up areas. • To protect nature and landscape resources and biodiversity and to serve as ecological corridors. • To contribute to quality of life and the environment and to the image of the city and the region. • To stimulate plans for urban open spaces adjacent to the park. • To create an area with high educational value for environmental and physical education. • To create a place of refuge and rest. • To contribute to the infiltration of runoff.

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MARTIN WEYL ON THE AYALON PARK
the Shapirim River. Its summit offers a panoramic view of the entire southern part of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. The plan calls for the transformation of this landfill, long an aesthetic blight in the center of the country, into a central element at the heart of the new park. The rehabilitated Hiriya landfill will be integrated into the park as a dramatic hill adjacent to agricultural fields, an archaeological site and the historic Mikveh-Yisrael agricultural school. Some parts of the park will be designated for recreation and leisure, others for a waste recycling park, and yet others for floodwater collection. Toward Development of the Ayalon Park The April 2005 government decision on the Ayalon Park made it abundantly clear that public parks are not real estate. Based on the decision, an interministerial committee is drafting recommendations for the creation of an administrative body which will be responsible for establishing, planning, developing and maintaining the park. Although there is still much to do – technically and financially – plans for the implementation of the park are definitely progressing. Last year, on the holiday of Tu B'Shvat (Arbor Day), children from about 100 schools took part in a major tree-planting ceremony at the park. Today, bicycle paths are in service and waste recycling and methane collection are already a reality in Hiriya. Hopes are ripe that plans for what promises to be one of the world's most unique parks – environmentally, economically and socially - will indeed be fulfilled. Director of the Beracha Foundation, Former Director of the Israel Museum. The Beracha Foundation is the motivating force behind the idea to transform the former Hiriya garbage mountain into the heart of a major metropolitan park. Israel Environment Bulletin talked to the Director of the Beracha Foundation, Dr. Martin Weyl, on June 6, 2005 to find out the "hows" and "whys" of the Foundation’s involvement in the Ayalon Park project. Why did you choose to concentrate your efforts on the transformation of Hiriya from the most infamous garbage mountain in the country into the center of a major metropolitan park? I have always been bothered by Hiriya, how it looked, how it smelled and what it represented: lack of wise ecological management. The site resembled a wound in the heart of the country, something nearly immoral, a place that had no place in decent society. I wanted to change this. What did you do to promote your vision? I tried to interest different environmental organizations in my ideas as far back as 1996-7, but no one was interested. Therefore, I took a lift with a garbage truck to the top of the garbage mountain to look for myself. I became convinced that something interesting could be done. Fortunately, the time was right. Hiriya was in the process of being shut down. I came up with the idea of calling on artists to come up with proposals for changing the dump into an interesting new site open to the public. I managed to convince the chairman of the Dan Association of Towns for Sanitation of the possibilities. I also convinced the Board of Directors of the Beracha Foundation to organize a major exhibition which would show what could be done. The idea was conceptual – to focus attention on this garbage mountain and see if it was possible to change it from a negative symbol to a positive icon. I used the exhibition in a political way and invited all of the relevant people - representatives of the Ministry of the Environment, other government ministries, Jewish National Fund, planning authorities, the Speaker of the Knesset, mayors of the surrounding municipalities. It was then that the district planner of Tel Aviv came up to me and asked whether the Beracha Foundation could become involved not only in Hiriya but also in its surroundings in order to transform the entire 800-hectare area into a major metropolitan park. What was the next step? I strongly believe that if you do something you should do it right - at the highest level and at the highest quality. Since Israel did not have the experience to plan such a site, we sought the help of top international specialists with expertise in the rehabilitation and development of contaminated areas. Most importantly, we were able to form a unique coalition of public and private bodies which allowed us to do things that government bodies could not do. We brought in top specialists, held seminars, workshops and an architectural charrette, published papers and developed a master plan with the aid of landscape architects from all over the world and Israel. This allowed us to "oil" the machinery, establish facts, raise awareness, promote educational activities and continue with a more detailed plan of the park at the highest possible level. Just last summer, we organized an anonymous international competition for landscape

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Improving the environment and preserving open spaces The Ayalon Park: Historical Landmarks
• 1998 Hiriya landfill shut down following nearly 50 years of service. • 1998 Tel Aviv District Planner initiates a statutory outline plan (Plan 5/3) for the area of the Ayalon Park aimed at changing its designation from agricultural land to "reserve for park uses." • 1999 International exhibition of proposals by artists and architects for the restoration of Hiriya in the Tel Aviv Museum. • 2001 International planning workshop to formulate pragmatic recommendations for advancing the Hiriya rehabilitation plan. • 2002 Outline Plan 5/3 is deposited for objections. Twenty objections are filed between September 2003 and February 2004. • 2003 International planning workshop (Charrette), attended by 30 experts, lays the groundwork for the Ayalon Park master plan. • 2004 Subcommittee of the National Planning and Building Board gives a goahead to the Ayalon Park and rejects demands for residential building on some of the land designated for the park. • 2005 Israel government approves a decision to establish the Ayalon Park in an area spanning 800 hectares.

planning of the garbage mountain, with the aim of turning it into a park, and have subsequently opened an exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum. Are you pleased with the progress made? A park like this cannot be built overnight. We are proceeding in sections according to the funding opportunities. While more detailed planning is still required, we can already start to implement the Hiriya part of the plan where the land is available. Other parts will take longer. Without doubt a major milestone in the process was the unanimous decision of the National Planning and Building Board to approve the park plan. This may be attributed to effective though quiet lobbying and to the fact that the Prime Minister was behind the plan. It has been said that "success has many fathers but failure is an orphan." The fact that we were able to build up a coalition of so many interested groups is a symbolic event in Israel’s environmental history. The ripples grew larger and larger and more and more people became involved. What are your wishes for the future? I hope that this international effort based on stakeholder participation will become a model of how to rally socio-political, cultural, and economic resources around the cause of the urban environment and to create ecological and community consciousness in the process. In the case of Hiriya, it seems to me that the big battles have already been won and the time has now come to put the technical aspects into place. Although there is still much to do, it is important for me to transmit the message that it is still possible to transform even the most environmentally degraded area into something positive, interesting and even beautiful. It is my hope that Hiriya and its environs will indeed be transformed into a high quality park whose special design will attract visitors from Israel and abroad.

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Treating life-threatening hotspots

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

Hiriya: ID Card
• Operated as the main landfill of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area for nearly 50 years (1952-1998) • Quantity of accumulated waste: about 16 million m3 • Height above the surrounding area – about 60 m • Height above sea level – about 80 m • Average slope gradient: 1:1.4 • Area: about 50 hectares

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Shoham gardens. Photo: Judy Elispor

Top to bottom: Galia Ben-Shoham, Eyal Mitrani, Amir Balaban

L

Open Spaces In Urban Places
attention to the subject of open spaces in urban places. The move was triggered by developments outside of Israel, such as the UK initiative "Green Spaces, Better Places," and by growing public demand for urban parks in Israel itself. Yet, despite growing public concern, there was no single agency ready to take responsibility for the issue. Rather, responsibility was dispersed among different government ministries and authorities - Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Housing, local authorities and landscape architects and gardeners. The Ministry of the Environment decided to meet the challenge.

Less than 10 square meters of land for urban parks and gardens are allocated in Israel per person, less than half the amount in Western countries

Urban public open spaces are all too frequently viewed as free real estate, empty spaces in which to build and develop. Yet, open space is a vital component of urban environmental quality. If a city cannot provide quality open space to its residents, they will seek green spaces elsewhere, opting for one-story houses in the suburbs and thus accelerating the vicious cycle of open space depletion. Recognition of these simple facts has led the Ministry of the Environment to pay closer

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Improving the environment and preserving open spaces
Examples from the Field Israel’s unique conditions – population growth, rapid development and an urban population - make the preservation of open spaces for the benefit of its citizens an imperative. Yet, as demonstrated by a study commissioned by the Ministry of the Environment, Israel's urban population is being denied its right to open space in the quantity and quality necessary. For example, in a Lod neighborhood, planned for a population of 14,000, only 1.15 square meters of parks per capita have been allocated, although Israel's guidelines require a minimum of 5 square meters per capita at neighborhood level. And to make matters worse, Lod does not even have a single urban park or sufficient open spaces to serve as neighborhood parks. Even when land is allocated for public open space, it is not always developed for parks and gardens. Thus, in Tel Aviv only 70% of the public open spaces are developed, in Jerusalem (2003 figures) only 52% are developed and in Rahat (the largest Bedouin settlement in Israel’s south), only one park exists. What's more, in Beersheba, for example, park maintenance is inadequate and existing parks are not adapted to climatic conditions in the Negev. To make matters worse, all too often changes in the designation of open spaces are allowed for public institutions or even for roads, commerce or parking. In Kiryat Gat, cultural institutions were built in open spaces designated for parks. In Beersheba, a technological college will be built on a one-hectare area within the bounds of a neighborhood park spanning three hectares and none of the urban renewal projects currently include neighborhood parks. So What’s Being Done? How to preserve green spaces in urban places? The Ministry of the Environment believes that the dearth of both quantity and quality in urban public open space is largely the result of lack of awareness and knowledge among planning agencies and local authorities. Therefore, in cooperation with other bodies, it is publishing (cont. p. 21)

Photo: Eyal Yaffe

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Treating life-threatening hotspots

Urban Open Spaces – The Statutory And Planning Aspects
A study commissioned by the Ministry of the Environment on the statutory and planning aspects of urban open spaces surveyed more than 100 plans in 11 cities, reviewed guidelines approved by the government in 2001 on the allocation of land for public purposes and compared conditions in Israel to conditions worldwide. Following are some of the findings: • Israel’s guidelines on the allocation of open space in terms of square meters per capita are much lower than in other countries. • While Europe and the U.S. allocate more than 20 square meters of land for urban parks and gardens per capita, Israel’s guidelines call for half this amount – less than 10 square meters per person. • Deviations in plans are often allowed for the construction of public institutions or even infrastructure at the expense of open spaces. • Many public open spaces are left derelict and remain undeveloped. • The hierarchy of parks – city, quarter, neighborhood – is either inadequate or non-existent.

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

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Bustan Brody: The Story of a Community Garden
It all started a little more than a year ago with a knock on the door of one of the residents of Brody Street in the Kiryat Shmuel neighborhood of Jerusalem. A representative of the Ginot Ha'Ir Community Center wanted to know how to get in touch with representatives of the "House Committees" in the nearby apartment buildings. The reason – an initiative to turn a neglected plot of wasted land, previously the target of building plans, into a community garden. The response was enthusiastic. With the Community Center serving as coordinator and organizer, events were planned to transform vision into reality, most of them scheduled to coincide with national or religious holidays: • August 5, 2004: General cleanup day, with the participation of entire families, coinciding with Tu B'Av, celebrated as the Day of Love for the Environment. • January 14, 2005: Planting day, coinciding with Tu B'Shvat or Arbor Day. • March 18, 2005: Wood chip covering day, coinciding with the holiday of Purim. Additional activities included the placement of small rocks and the planting of small plants around the edges to define the garden area, outdoor classes on ecological gardening for young and old, and even the burning of chametz (fermented grain) just prior to the holiday of Passover. Today, the 2,000 square meter triangular garden is beginning to take shape. The cooperative effort initiated and organized by the Community Center, with initial funds from the municipality and a lot of good will and volunteerism on the part of the residents, is making a difference. Municipal funds, supplemented by donations from the residents, have helped to buy and deliver soil and saplings for planting and to set up an automatic irrigation system, representatives of the Jerusalem branch of the Society for the Protection of Nature provided guidelines on what and where to plant, while the residents themselves took part in the events, sold drinks to gather additional funds, and even provided musical entertainment on each occasion. Each event became a festive happening. In June 2005, even the mayor of Jerusalem himself showed up to plant a tree. Ideas for the future abound. Benches, urban ecology, bird watching – these are just some of the plans on the agenda. But most important is the community spirit, the sense of participation felt by young and old alike. In planning "Bustan Brody," the residents of this neighborhood got together to identify community needs and accommodate community interests for the benefit of all. The result: bonfires for youngsters on the holiday of Lag Ba'Omer, composters for the ecologically inclined, walks, talks, events, music and even designated spaces for dog owners. From a neglected plot of land, "Bustan Brody" is being transformed into a green space for the benefit and enjoyment of community members, a place to meet, chat, rest and dream.

The Gardens of Holon Some 180,000 people live in Holon, a major city in the central region of Israel, which aims to be a national cultural center for children and families. In recent years, special attention has been focused on cultivating the appearance of the city with "green lungs." There are dozens of public parks and gardens in Holon, but the most unique are 13 fairytale gardens. These public gardens display outdoor sculptures created by well-known artists, which are inspired by children’s poems and stories. The combination of literature with plastic arts is serving a twin function: increasing the children’s love of literature while developing the "green lungs" of Holon. Park Rehabilitation in Taibe There are only two public parks in the Arab city of Taibe, serving a population of some 34,000 residents. Both are small and run-down. But things may well change as the result of a unique competition initiated by the Al-Tanmiyeh w'al-Tahsil (Development and Achievement) association: a prize-bearing school competition to rehabilitate one of the parks. Many of the local children prepared models – a stream running through the park, a fish pond, a zoo, and even a tram. Yet the competition stimulated more than models alone. A group of sixth grade girls prepared documents on the status of the park, including a map of different plots and proposals for rehabilitation, and sent letters to commercial companies and government officials asking them to help. This catalyzed the municipality to have a local engineer prepare a detailed plan for park rehabilitation so that donations may be solicited. Moreover, the residents themselves have taken up the idea, promising to donate materials and manpower to help transform vision into reality.

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Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

GALIA BEN-SHOHAM ON URBAN PARKS
Why did the Ministry of the Environment decide to promote the subject of urban parks? In recent years, we have become increasingly aware that park development is a major environmental issue especially in a small and densely populated country where more than 90% of the population resides in urban areas. To a large extent, the existence of quality open spaces is an indicator of quality of life and quality of the environment in an urban setting. Our determination was reinforced by the results of a survey on environmental considerations in municipal elections, which was conducted a couple of years ago. The findings showed that urban residents attribute high importance to environmental issues, with parks and green spaces coming in second among a long list of environmental subjects which are of special concern to the public (preceded only by urban cleanliness). What is the Ministry of the Environment doing to promote urban parks? The ministry serves as a watchdog in the country’s planning agencies when it comes to the quantity, quality and hierarchy of public parks at the municipal level. We are working hard to assure that planning agencies do not yield to pressures to establish educational, religious or cultural institutions on areas allocated for public open space. But that’s not all. We are currently working on professional assessments and action plans for public urban open space which relate to four major realms: planning, social, management and maintenance, and funding. On the planning front, in cooperation with other ministries and authorities, we are preparing guidelines targeted at the country’s planning agencies. On the social front, we are drafting background papers and guidelines which relate to ways of planning urban parks which respond to the needs of the residents, young and old. This may relate, for example, to the optimal arrangement of benches –facing each other to promote conversation among young people or facing the playground to watch children play for the older population – or to the best use of lighting so that the park is lit up without disturbing nearby residents. What did the study on the planning aspects of public urban open space reveal? It revealed that the situation is not good. First, the allocation of public open space for urban parks is lower in Israel than in the developed world. Second, even when public open space is allocated, local authorities do not necessarily develop it. Third, when open space is allocated for parks, the designation is often subject to change to allow for other uses such as public buildings. Fourth, in order to meet quotas for open space, local authorities tend to allocate the "leftovers" of planning. This means that small strips around buildings or traffic islands are painted green on planning documents as if they were public open spaces. Fifth, public open spaces are often used for other purposes such as water towers or water pools. What can be done to ensure that public open space is allocated for parks? We have to give decision makers and planners the right tools. Therefore, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of the Interior are preparing a manual, in cooperation with other government ministries, local authorities

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Treating life-threatening hotspots

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

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cont. from p.18

and NGOs, on the quality and hierarchy of public open space. We are also organizing seminars and training sessions to generate the necessary awareness and knowledge to bring about the necessary changes. What should the public do? Public participation and involvement are of major importance. For example, in the hierarchy of urban parks, community and neighborhood gardens are often initiated bottom-up, by community centers, green groups, grassroots organizations and concerned citizens. There are examples of initiatives throughout the country where residents have taken responsibility for the maintenance and enhancement of existing gardens or for the planning and development of new parks or agricultural gardens. The idea is to transform neglected areas into community gardens in which all sectors of the population can take part. Experience has shown that the development of community parks and gardens strengthens the community and fosters a feeling of involvement and belonging. We have also found that when residents take an active part in planning and maintaining community parks, vandalism is significantly reduced.
Playground in Shoham. Photo: Judy Elispor

studies, preparing guidelines, setting thresholds for open public spaces in urban renewal plans, organizing seminars and workshops and promoting awareness through its website. In February 2005, the Environment Ministry published a manual entitled "Revitalizing Urban Parks: How to Develop Friendly Gardens," a first in a series of manuals aimed at increasing municipal awareness of the importance of public parks. The manual includes chapters on public parks, community parks and urban ecology, and surveys success stories worldwide. Yet another study, prepared jointly by the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of the Interior, is nearing completion. It will provide the necessary tools for planners to assure that the public is indeed provided with a sufficient number of quality open spaces. Some Bright Spots Today, there are already some signs of progress. Cities such as Modi’in, Tel Aviv, and Holon have given high priority to the development and maintenance of high-quality urban parks. Modi’in, in fact, is the only city actually to exceed the government guidelines on the allocation of open spaces for parks while in Tel Aviv and Holon, the municipalities have compensated for lack of quantity by quality. Furthermore, new master plans for Jerusalem, Modi’in and Karmiel incorporate quality open spaces, plans in Tel Aviv and Kfar Saba are based on a green backbone, and efforts to improve the green appearance of the city are visible in Ra’anana and Ashdod. There is no doubt that awareness of the importance of urban open space is growing. Residents in several localities are beginning to demand quality as well as quantity as they realize that the quality of their life depends, to a great degree, on the quality of their urban environment. Throughout the country, people are beginning to recognize that urban parks and gardens can provide a green refuge from the hectic pace of modern city life, that they are key elements in urban renewal, public health, quality of life and community identity.

Quality of life depends on the quality of the urban environment

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Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers
Jordan River. Photo: Itamar Grinberg

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Treating life-threatening hotspots

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

W

The Water Connection
"Water, the life source, is the continuum, the strand that connects people" (From "Crossing the Jordan" by Friends of the Earth Middle East) place on Peace Island (located in the middle of the river) at the initiative of FoEME and with the sponsorship of international and national organizations. At the conference, Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan joined Israel's Environment Minister Shalom Simhon in mapping out a strategy for saving the river and its environs. One of the highlights of the conference was the release of a 32-page concept document by FoEME entitled "Crossing the Jordan." The document identifies the causes for the river's deterioration and highlights the Jordan Valley's natural and cultural significance. But most importantly, it calls on concerned governments, in cooperation with municipalities, local residents and civil society groups, to adopt an action plan for the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River Valley and for the inscription of the Jordan River on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The Jordan River, a holy site for Christians, Jews and Muslims, boasts unique natural, cultural and religious attributes. Yet the "lowest" river

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

The water connection is the motif linking two projects initiated by the regional NGO Friends of the Earth Middle East: "Crossing the Jordan" and "Good Water Neighbors." According to Gidon Bromberg, Israeli director of FoEME, "Water is a bridge – it brings people together." Over the past few years, Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians, on both community and government levels, have committed themselves to protecting their shared water resources. They have shown that a shared environment can indeed form the common basis for action, that mutual dialogue and trust can indeed usher in a better future. Crossing the Jordan On March 8, 2005, a conference aimed at raising awareness of the Jordan River Valley’s shared heritage and the need for its rehabilitation took

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GIDON BROMBERG ON THE JORDAN RIVER PROJECT
Israel Director, Friends of the Earth Middle East Over the past year, FoEME has met with key stakeholders in Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan to better understand their concerns and priorities for the Jordan River. In July 2004, we organized a three-day site visit to the Lower Jordan River Valley. The delegation visited important natural and cultural heritage sites in the region and discussed the river with experts and stakeholders on all sides of the border. Assistance from all sides was heartwarming, and cooperation was felt from the outset of the program. Two events were held for the general public to raise awareness of the environmental situation of the Jordan River. The international "Jordan River Conference" was held on March 8, 2005 at the "Peace Island" (Bakoora) on the Jordan River, where the "Crossing the Jordan" report was introduced to the public and the media. The "Big Jump" into the Jordan River, held on July 10th, 2005 at the Yardenit site on the river, was a reminder to the public that we must encourage all of our governments to clean up the river and allow more fresh water to run in it. Many participating guests literally jumped into the river to emphasize the point! We are now trying to unite forces with other parties that are working towards the needed rehabilitation of the Jordan River in Israel. Over the coming months we hope to draft an overall action plan for the river, with special focus on two core areas which include the largest concentrations of natural and cultural sites and to initiate lobbying efforts to submit a request for the tentative listing of the river in the UNESCO World Heritage Listing. The Jordan River is at a critical junction. The time has now come for all parties to work together to rehabilitate the Jordan. We would like to see the day when "Crossing the Jordan" will be a cultural, historical and ecological experience that will enrich the lives of residents and tourists alike while preserving the Jordan Valley's unique heritage for generations to come.
Water signs in English, Hebrew and Arabic. Photo: FoEME

The Big Jump. Photo: FoEME

in the world is threatened by excessive water diversion, pollution and inappropriate development. In 50 years, its annual flow has dramatically dropped from 1.3 billion cubic meters to less than 100 million cubic meters per year, of which some 20 million is untreated sewage. Dams, canals and pumping stations built by Israel, Jordan and Syria to divert water for crops and drinking have reduced the flow by more than 90 percent. Without immediate intervention in river rehabilitation the damage may be irreversible. The release of the concept document marked the beginning of a regional effort to raise the awareness of decision makers, the media and the public of the sorry state of the Lower Jordan River. To bring the message home, eight mayors and municipal representatives from Palestinian, Israeli and Jordanian communities along the Jordan River staged a "Big Jump" into the river on July 10, 2005 while calling on their governments to clean up and rehabilitate the river now. Good Water Neighbors Water also stands at the basis of another unique project initiated by FoEME in 2001 – "Good Water Makes Good Neighbors." This community-based project aims at fostering people-to-people information exchange, dialogue and cooperation on the protection, reuse and sustainable use of water in Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Israel. To do this, a "partnering communities program" was set up between neighboring communities, and parallel sets of "water trustees" – schoolchildren who volunteer to work on water issues in their community – were set up. With the support of the SMAP program of the European Union and the Wye River program of the U.S., the project has been successfully implemented in eleven communities (5 Palestinian, 5 Israeli and one Jordanian). Building on four years of experience in promoting water-related schemes on the community level, the project is now entering a new phase. The idea is to extend actions to target groups including not only youth but also adults, mayors and municipal staff. The second phase of the program will also include new communities in the Jordan Valley and around the Dead Sea. Cross-border forums in which participants will interact for the benefit of their communities and for their shared environment will also be set up.

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Onwads towards cleaner coasts Treating life-threatening hotspots

Asbestos pipeline. Photo: Chagai Shyowitz

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Treating life-threatening hotspots

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

T

Confronting The Asbestos Problem
did its best to respond to the situation on all fronts. It provided professional guidelines on emergency action to minimize the damage by wetting and encapsulation as well as guidance on containment, wetting, removal, collection and disposal. A representative of the ministry visited the area on a daily basis to provide guidelines to the contractors, the kibbutz and the residents. Transparency of information was a priority. Throughout a three-week period, daily monitoring was undertaken at the specific site and in the periphery, with special attention to kindergartens and schools. The daily results were displayed in a prominent place for all to see. On the first day, measurements at the focal point of the explosion showed 1.9 fibers/cm3 and no fibers in the periphery. By the next day, monitoring showed a significant reduction in asbestos fibers – evidence that the ministry's guidelines were on target.

The Ministry of the Environment is making a concerted effort to tackle the asbestos problem in Israel

On May 25, 2005, a massive explosion rocked Kibbutz Afeq in the north of Israel. The explosion – in a fireworks warehouse – slightly injured some people and damaged property. But the initial relief that worse damage was not done was soon replaced by panic when residents realized that some 10,000 square meters of asbestos roofing were destroyed by the blast. Phones at the Asbestos Division of the Ministry of the Environment did not stop ringing. Should preschoolers be sent to kindergartens? Can residents return to homes that were not damaged by the explosion? These were only some of the questions. On its part, despite inadequate financial and manpower resources, the Environment Ministry

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Asbestos Use in Israel: 1950s-1990s
• Friable asbestos was used for thermal and acoustic insulation, brake linings, and pical boards in the army • Asbestos cement (containing up to 10% asbestos) was used for roofing, wallboards, water and sewage pipelines and chimneys throughout the country. • It is estimated that some 100 million square meters of asbestos cement still exist in industrial buildings, agricultural structures, roofs of private buildings, educational institutions, parking areas, and army camps.

of an international expert commissioned by the Ministry of the Environment that any future development would have to take all aspects into consideration. On its part, the Ministry of the Environment issued orders to clean up the site in accordance with its guidelines. The municipality cleaned up the area and the amusement park project was subsequently shelved. That, however, did not solve the asbestos problem. At the end of 2000, the Environment Ministry initiated an asbestos distribution survey to evaluate asbestos contamination in the Western Galilee. Some 53 sites were sampled in Nahariya, in adjacent communities and villages and in waste disposal sites. The sites were subsequently ranked

It is estimated that some 100 million square meters of asbestos cement exist in Israel

The incident, according to Ms. Tamar Bar-On, director of the Asbestos Division, underlines the risks that citizens throughout the country face as a result of fire, explosion and demolition work involving asbestos containing materials. The Facts Asbestos was widely used in Israel following the establishment of the Eitanit (formerly Isasbest) asbestos cement plant in 1952. Eitanit, situated in Nahariya in the north of Israel, was closed down in 1997. However, the asbestos problem has not disappeared. Surveys have shown that asbestos waste which accumulated in the plant was discarded throughout the area of the Western Galilee and even sold to contractors and individuals for such uses as roads and sidewalks, yards and infrastructure for cowsheds and chicken coups. Asbestos Distribution in the Western Galilee Concerns over exposure to asbestos in northern Israel were awakened in the 1990s when the municipality of Nahariya initiated infrastructure work for an amusement park on the seashore to the west of the Eitanit asbestos plant. Work on the site was only halted in the wake of an appeal to the courts by green organizations. The court called for the preparation of an environmental impact assessment and adopted the opinion

Health Impacts
Recent figures published by Israel's Ministry of Health show that the asbestos related cancer rate in the country is on the rise, with the current number of cases more than three times greater than in some other countries, that about one third of the cases involve women and that the largest concentration of disease is in the Western Galilee. According to the professional literature, some 80% of mesothelioma cases are directly linked to exposure to asbestos. Considering the long latency period between the first exposure to asbestos and the diagnosis of mesothelioma (20-40 years), increased incidence of mesothelioma in Israel may reflect the growing use of asbestos in Israel between the 1950s and 1970s. It is expected, therefore, that the incidence of the disease will continue to rise. According to the latest figures released by the Health Ministry's Cancer Registry, there were 567 cases of the disease between 1990 and 2004.

Source: Ministry of Health

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Treating life-threatening hotspots
Within the framework of the regulations, the Ministry of the Environment is responsible for the work of an interministerial technical committee on hazardous dust. The committee makes recommendations to the relevant ministers on the technical aspects of work with and use of asbestos, authorizes laboratories and examiners to undertake asbestos testing and monitoring, establishes analytical methods for measuring asbestos, issues guidelines on work with friable and non-friable asbestos, provides guidelines on the safe use, treatment, removal and disposal of asbestos, and serves as an information center on asbestos. Most importantly, it issues permits for asbestos related work, whereby asbestos is defined in the broadest possible terms. The committee has established a guideline value of 1400 fibers/m3 for ambient exposure to asbestos. Recently, the National Planning and Building Board approved the Ministry of the Environment's proposal for an amendment to the Planning and Building Regulations on asbestos which will further minimize the potential release of asbestos fibers to the environment. The amendment prohibits construction with asbestos materials and requires that requests for building permits for demolition of asbestos containing structures, asbestos removal, or building in an area in which asbestos exists have the approval of the technical committee. What’s Been Done? Information: In recent years, the Ministry of the Environment has made a concerted effort to tackle the asbestos problem in Israel. Information and education are major priorities and guidelines targeted at both the general public and professionals are available on the Hebrew website of the ministry. These include: information sheets to the public on asbestos exposure, guidelines on safe procedures for dealing with asbestos containing materials and products, guidelines on removal of asbestos-cement products, lists of contractors and inspectors authorized to undertake asbestosrelated work and lists of accredited laboratories for asbestos testing. Training: Since 2001, the Ministry of the Environment, by means of the National Center for Hazardous

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Treating life-threatening hotspots

Asbestos pipeline. Photo: Chagai Shyowitz

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

into four risk levels according to the quantity and type of asbestos found. Based on the findings, the Environment Ministry issued orders for the cleanup of the most seriously contaminated sites. The Law The Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor (formerly the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs) are responsible for the legal aspects of asbestos use within the framework of Safety at Work Regulations (Industrial Hygiene and Public Health for Workers and the Public Exposed to Hazardous Dust). The 1984 regulations cover the occupational and public health aspects of the subject. They establish standards and safety procedures, set requirements for medical checkups, specify prohibited and permitted substances, and establish obligations for monitoring. The regulations set the occupational standard for asbestos at 0.2 fibers/cm3 averaged over an eight-hour period (TWA). While the regulations restrict the import of asbestos and its byproducts into Israel, in practice, there has been no import of asbestos into the country for several years.

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

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Substances and Environmental Studies, and in cooperation with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, has organized compulsory training courses for asbestos contractors and inspectors and annual refresher days. The results are impressive: in 2002, only 12 authorized inspectors operated throughout the country; by the end of 2004, their number skyrocketed to 100. Permitting System: Since 2001, the number of permit requests for asbestos work has risen significantly – from an average of 8 requests per month in 2002 to 48 per month in 2004. The numbers are continuing to rise. In July 2005 alone, for example, 64 requests for asbestos work were submitted to the Ministry of the Environment. Each permit may relate to thousands of meters and dozens of structures – whether in a kibbutz or university. Moreover, since asbestos work requires a permit from the technical committee and only an authorized asbestos worker may carry out the work, special efforts have been invested in checking the accreditation and training requirements for contractors and bodies dealing with asbestoscontaining material. Enforcement: When necessary, carrot is accompanied by stick. In recent years, additional efforts have been invested in opening investigation files and filing indictments in order to make sure that violators of the law are prosecuted and that others comply with legal requirements of the law. And What Now? Efforts are currently focusing on preparing a government action plan on asbestos treatment aimed at minimizing the asbestos hazard in Israel. The proposed action plan includes such measures as: completion of asbestos surveys in the Western Galilee, implementation of an epidemiological survey, allocation of a preliminary budget for the preparation and implementation of the action plan, establishment of an asbestos waste disposal site in the north of Israel, initiation of an asbestos survey in public institutions where asbestos is known to exist and establishment of guidelines

for maintenance or removal, and measures to deal with the asbestos problem in the Western Galilee. The release of carcinogenic asbestos fibers may be a handbreadth away from anyone, anywhere. Simply put, there is no such thing as "safe" exposure to asbestos. The Ministry of the Environment is therefore intent on spearheading a change, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor and local authorities. Despite limited funds, everything must be done today in order to prevent a potential catastrophe tomorrow.

There is no such thing as "safe" exposure to asbestos

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Treating life-threatening hotspots

TAMAR BAR-ON ON ASBESTOS
Director, Asbestos Division
What is the Ministry of the Environment doing to tackle the asbestos problem in Israel? One of the clauses in the 1984 regulations on asbestos states that asbestos work cannot be undertaken without the approval of the technical committee on hazardous dust. We volunteered to head this committee and today everyone knows that the Environment Ministry is the address for asbestos training, asbestos permits and asbestos guidelines. We have also invested resources to make information readily available to the public and to professionals. We printed information sheets, posted our guidelines on the internet, conducted seminars, provided guidelines to local authorities and the army, and organized lectures. Although emergencies such as fires continue in asbestos containing facilities, we have instituted a procedure that ensures that we will be informed about every event so as to provide guidelines to rescue services on what to do. I can definitely say that over the past three years we brought about a virtual revolution in our treatment of this problem. Today, more asbestos waste is disposed in a safe manner, there are many more trained contractors, inspectors and asbestos workers who operate according to strict guidelines, and institutions and factories have upgraded the subject in their multi-annual work plans. This is accompanied by a major increase in public awareness as is evidenced by the number of inquiries to the Ministry of the Environment and the number of hits to our website. I strongly believe that awareness is the key to progress. How do our standards compare to asbestos standards around the world? Our occupational standard is identical to other standards in the world. Although our regulations define an occupational standard of 0.2 fibers/cm3 averaged over an eight-hour period, in practice the standard in effect is 0.1 fibers/cm3. As far as an environmental standard is concerned, the technical committee has established a guideline value of 1,400 fibers/m3 for ambient exposure to asbestos. This is one of the most stringent guidelines worldwide. The Western Galilee is the most contaminated areas in Israel in terms of asbestos. What can be done to address this problem? Four years ago we implemented an asbestos survey in the Western Galilee in which we sampled 53 sites and discovered areas laden with all types of asbestos. We then issued "cleanup orders" to the relevant municipalities requiring them to treat the most polluted sites. We also informed three local authorities that it is their responsibility to clean up all of the sites. Today, building in areas suspected

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Treating life-threatening hotspots

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

Protective gear during asbestos work. Photo: Gerar Gal-Or

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of asbestos contamination is contingent on the performance of a survey and on clean up of the area.

and therefore economically difficult to implement. It is very important to establish an asbestos site in the north of the country. Secondly we have to find a Can we point to any positive developments solution to the problem of asbestos in addressing this issue in Israel? contamination in the Western Galilee. As I said before, awareness of both We need professional as well as decision makers and the public has budgetary resources to do this. risen dramatically and this is bringing Thirdly, it is essential to conduct an about improvements in the field. For epidemiological survey among example, a couple of years ago everyone who has contracted an the Tel Aviv branch of the Ministry asbestos-related disease. We have of the Environment mapped all of to identify who actually worked the educational institutes in Bat Yam with asbestos, who is related to an and Herzliya and presented a report asbestos worker, who came from on the condition of asbestos facilities abroad and who contracted the in these buildings. As a result, the disease without realizing that he/she municipality took the necessary were in contact with asbestos in action to correct the deficiencies. order to find out whether anyone Hopefully this pilot project will be got sick as a result of environmental followed by a comprehensive From top to bottom: School exposure. We must try to find out survey of educational institutions building. Photo: Shai Pe’er, today what awaits us 40 years from School building. Photo: throughout the country. now. Perhaps what we are doing Carol Avraham, Roof after In addition, special mention should removal. Photo: Avner now is too much, perhaps not be made of a huge, multi-million Barzilai enough. The results of the survey dollar army project to remove pical will give us a more accurate picture boards (with a 40% asbestos content). These of what to do. boards were often used in the army as bulletin Fourthly, we should map all of the country’s boards, in which thumbtacks were pinned. public institutions, whether schools, universities Recognition of the severity of the problem led or community centers, in order to identify the to a unique multi-annual project to remove condition of asbestos containing materials. Based these boards in accordance with stringent on the results, decisions can be taken on whether guidelines. Despite major budgetary cutbacks to maintain or remove these materials. in the country's defense budget, this project is And finally we need a new law. Our present law is continuing in full force. anachronistic since it has an occupational focus and gives inadequate attention to the environment. What else should be done to prevent exposure to asbestos Asbestos is no longer produced anywhere in Israel. fibers? What we need now is a mechanism for licensing, The most important thing is to establish a site for inspection and enforcement. Today we provide the disposal of friable asbestos waste. Today professional guidelines and instructions by issuing asbestos is disposed in landfills according to strict orders under a variety of different laws, but this conditions for containment and segregation. is not an optimal situation. A new law is sorely Yet these conditions are extremely expensive needed.

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Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Asbestos Removal in the Israel Defense Force: A Unique Project
A survey conducted in 1998 in army camps throughout Israel found some 10,000 square meters of pical (asbestos) boards in Israel. These boards (containing some 40% asbestos) are frequently used in army bases as wall partitions and bulletin boards. Recognition of the significant risks associated with these asbestos containing boards led to the drafting and implementation of an action plan for removal of pical boards. With the cooperation of the Ministry of the Environment, a course for asbestos supervisors was opened, procedures and guidelines for dealing with asbestos were prepared, a work program was developed, and a project for the removal of pical boards from all units was initiated in April 2002. Priorities for the safe removal of asbestos were based on the results of Recommended Technical Method 2 for the determination of airborne asbestos fiber concentrations (RTM2). Repopulation was only allowed when monitoring showed the elimination of airborne asbestos fibers. These efforts received special recognition within the framework of a special ceremony in which the Minister of the Environment presented environmental awards to Israel Defense Force (IDF) units excelling in environmental projects and activities. In December 2003, the Environment Minister presented a special certificate of merit to the Building Center of the IDF for initiating and implementing the asbestos removal project in army units and bases throughout the country. The project is continuing. During its implementation additional asbestos-containing boards were found, well beyond the original estimate of 10,000 square meters. In fact, by June 2005, some 43,000 square meters of pical boards had been identified, of which some 12,915 square meters are in planning and approval stages and 30,089 square meters are already approved for implementation. Of the latter, some 27,366 square meters of asbestos boards have already been removed while the remainder (some 2,723 square meters) is currently undergoing implementation or awaiting contractors.

DID YOU KNOW?
• The etymology of the word asbestos may be traced back to the ancient Greek word meaning "inextinguishable," in recognition of its fire-retardant properties. • Asbestos is the name given to a group of minerals that occur naturally as bundles of fibers which can be separated into thin threads. • The three most common types of asbestos are: a) chrysotile, or white asbestos; b) amosite, or brown asbestos; and c) crocidolite, or blue asbestos. Chrysotile, a member of the Serpentine mineral group, is the commonest. • It is estimated that there are about 100 million square meters of asbestos cement in Israel. • Asbestos is a known carcinogen. Exposure to asbestos may increase the risk of asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma and other cancers. • Mesothelioma is a relatively rare cancer of the inner lining of the chest wall or abdominal cavity. Asbestos exposure is the only known cause for this form of cancer, which may go undetected for more than 40 years. Even short exposure to medium levels of asbestos contamination may lead to the disease. • Based on current knowledge, intact and undisturbed asbestos cement products do not pose a health risk as long as they are not sawed, drilled, scraped, sanded or handled in such a way as to cause the material to crumble and be released into the air. • During the August 2005 disengagement, asbestos contractors dismantled some 23,000 sq.m. of asbestos from Gaza Strip and North Samarian settlements. Some 530 tons of asbestos cement were transferred to Israel for landfilling.

Improving the environment and preserving open spaces

Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

Treating life-threatening hotsports

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

A look at an amosite fiber

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Cows in the Galilee. Photo: Ilan Malester

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Dairy Farms Go Green
The greening of Israel’s dairy farms within just a few years is a major achievement, even by world standards years (1999-2004), the following was achieved: • The total number of dairy farms was reduced by 419 – from 1,453 to 1,034 – a 29% reduction. • National milk production increased by 26 million liters – 2.5% - an addition equal to about 3,000 cows. A Major Achievement The reform project presented a golden opportunity to upgrade environmental infrastructures in dairy farms and to stop environmental pollution from this source. By the end of 2004, 97% of Israel’s dairy farms had completed or were in the midst of undertaking environmental improvements from infrastructure for the prevention of pollutant infiltration to prevention of manure, leachate and sewage overflow. Environmental improvement of Israel’s dairy farm sector is a major achievement, even by world standards. By the end of 2006, all of Israel’s dairy farms will be environment friendly, constituting a model for a comprehensive solution to one of the most difficult problems associated with cattle raising in Israel.

There are about 115,000 cows in Israel, producing about 1.15 billion liters of milk per year – an average of 10,500 liters of milk per cow. Yet while Israel's cows yield one of the highest rates of milk in the world, they are major polluters of the environment. It is estimated that one cow equals about 20 people in terms of potential water pollution by organic material (BOD) generated per day. The pollution generated by some 350,000 heads of cattle in Israel, including both milk and beef cows, equals the pollution generated by the entire human population of the country. Problems associated with dairy farms include soil and water source contamination by nutrients, nitrates, brines, organic matter and pathogens as well as stench, flies and aesthetic degradation. Dairy Farm Reform: 1999-2004 In 1999, a reform package was initiated in the dairy sector, with the aim of encouraging dairy producers to become larger, more competitive and more efficient, on the one hand, and to prevent pollution, on the other hand. Within the framework of the reform, strict criteria were formulated for the environment-friendly operation of dairy farms, largely based on guidelines developed by the Ministry of the Environment. As part of the reform package, financial grants of 50% were provided for investments in infrastructure for the protection of the environment from cowshed wastes and leachates and 30% for investments in greater efficiency. At the initiation of the reform project, there were 1,453 cowsheds in Israel. During the course of six

By the end of 2006, all of Israel's dairy farms will be environment friendly

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Preventing marine and water pollution and restoring rivers

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

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An Interview With Paul Mifsud Coordinator, Mediterranean Action Plan
Mr. Paul Mifsud visited Israel in mid-May, 2005, just one year after taking office as Coordinator of the Mediterranean Action Plan of UNEP. Mr. Mifsud kindly provided the following interview to Israel Environment Bulletin on May 18, 2005. identified for mutual implementation. For example, the MED POL component of MAP is very much involved in the development of the European Marine Strategy. The intention is that the MAP will be the implementing agency of one component of that strategy on the regional level, namely capacity building. A second initiative relates to the development of a European Maritime Policy. A third initiative is the decision to hold the next meeting of the MAP Focal Points in September back to back with the Focal Points of SMAP (the EU’s Short and Medium-Term Priority Environmental Action Program under the EuroMediterranean Partnership). This year marks the 30th anniversary of the MAP. What is your vision for the MAP? MAP has achieved a great deal over the years in terms of policy development and program development, but we suffer from a lack of visibility. I think it’s about time that we promote ourselves. The higher our profile, the greater will be our credibility and support. In fact, one of the first things I did upon coming into office was to upgrade the MAP website. It is now important to chart the future course of the MAP, to help countries to implement the different programs. High on the priority list is the promotion of the National Action Plans for reducing landbased pollution within the framework of SAP (the Strategic Action Program). We are planning to do this with the financial support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which is offering to cooperate in two components: technical and

Treating life-threatening hotspots

Treating municipal, industrial and agricultural waste

Developing tools for improving service and professionalism

Since coming into office a little more than a year ago, you made a point of meeting with different Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention. What do you hope to accomplish with these visits? There are different objectives. In some countries, as in the case of Israel, the objective is to hasten ratification of the new Barcelona Convention and the amended Land-Based Sources Protocol. In others, such as Tunisia, the intention is to review the activities of the Regional Activity Center for Specially Protected Areas. In the case of the European Community, the intent is to send a clear signal that we want to work more closely with the EC. At the end of the day, my main objective is, of course, to promote closer working relationships with all of the Contracting Parties. What is the agenda for closer working relationships with the European Community? Now that we have seven European Community countries that are also members of the Barcelona Convention, it is my wish to chart a course on how to work together positively. Each of us brings something valuable to the table. The EC has enormous resources; MAP has major credibility in the region, especially in the southern Mediterranean countries. The EC has developed Neighborhood Policies on the bilateral level; MAP has both the credibility and the right mechanisms to implement regional initiatives. There are a number of initiatives that we have

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capacity building. I attribute special importance to the adoption of the new sustainable development strategy and hope to get a mandate from the Contracting Parties for its implementation. We, of course, will be there to facilitate and help, but at the end of the day, implementation has to be on the ground in the countries at national level. We take our mandate from the Contracting Parties. The idea is to plan a future road map, to plot our future course, so that we can address challenges in a sustainable way. I have many dreams but there’s nothing wrong with dreaming. All good things start with a dream. What are your impressions of Israel's efforts to protect its marine and coastal environment? I have a very high opinion of the professionals that I have met in Israel and of Israel’s representatives and Focal Points to the MAP. They take an active part in meetings and are significant contributors to different programs. I am fully convinced of Israel’s commitment to the environment and of its positive approach to environmental issues as can be seen by the newly enacted Coastal Law. Moreover, I am especially impressed by the cooperation that I have witnessed between government authorities and NGOs. The fact that the Environment Ministry invited NGO representatives to meet with me is a very positive step. The level of cooperation and the influence of NGOs on coastal issues in Israel are especially impressive. We would now like to find ways to involve more Israeli professionals in the MAP and to find ways and means of organizing meetings in Israel. With good will, I believe we can achieve positive results, both within the framework of the MAP and on the regional level. I believe that all big things start small and I am keen to help support some of the positive developments that are beginning to emerge in this region.

Workshop on Environmental Policy Integration and SMAP III
A Workshop on Environmental Policy Integration and SMAP III was held in Israel on May 25-26,2005. Its aim: to promote a dialogue between Israeli and European experts on mechanisms through which sustainable development goals can be promoted and integrated in different policy areas including agriculture, transportation, industry, energy and coastal zone management. The workshop included discussions and lectures and emphasized case studies and good practices for sound environmental management which were meant to promote interdisciplinary cooperation. Participants included representatives of the European Union, European Environment Agency (EEA), Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), Italian Agency for the Protection of the Environment and for Technical Services (APAT) and Finnish Environmental Institute (SYKE).

Israel Ratifies Amendment to Barcelona Convention
On August 15, 2005, the Israel cabinet resolved to ratify the amendment of 1995 to the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution (the Barcelona Convention). The amendment to the Convention, which relates to such aspects as sustainable development, biodiversity conservation, pollution prevention and greater cooperation among Contracting Parties, entered into force in 2004.

TA-Luft Workshop in Israel
The Environment Ministry's policy on air pollution emissions from industrial sources is largely based on Germany's technical instructions on air quality control, known as TA Luft 1986. Yet Germany revised these guidelines in 2002. The new instructions set new and more stringent emissions values and updated emission limits which correspond to the state of the art (use of best available techniques). In Israel, TA Luft 1986 emission limits were incorporated into the appendix of a Covenant on Implementing Standards on Pollutant Emissions into the Air, signed by the Environment Ministry and the Manufacturers Association of Israel in 1998. Industries signing this Covenant are required to abide by emission limits which are incorporated into their business licenses under the Licensing of Businesses Law or personal decrees (administrative directives for pollution reduction) issued under the Abatement of Nuisances Law. A three-day workshop, organized by the Manufacturers Association of Israel, the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (an NGO) and the Ministry of the Environment, was held in Israel in July 2005. Its intent: to increase knowledge about Germany's updated technical instructions on air quality control as a first step toward their adoption in Israel. The German delegation, which included representatives of the Federal Environmental Agency of Germany and the Ministry of the Environment of the State of North RhineWestphalia, presented the principles of the German approach on the prevention of air pollution from industry and related to the legal and environmental grounds for amending the guidelines and to the main emission control requirements of the TA Luft 2002. The Israeli participants, on their part, presented different aspects of air pollution prevention and treatment in Israel.

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The World of Communication. Photo: Alex Kaplan

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Cellular Antennas: Toward Greater Transparency
Israelis are major users of cell phones, but are up in arms about potential radiation from the base stations which support them To protect human health and the environment, the Ministry of the Environment has established two thresholds for exposure to non-ionizing radiation: a health threshold based on the recommendations of the International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) which advises the World Health Organization, and an environmental threshold, whose value is 10% of the health threshold.

It is estimated that the number of cell phones in use in Israel equals the number of people living in the country. Since cell phones cannot work without an antenna, mobile phone operators must establish a network of base stations to cover specific geographic areas. Moreover, since base stations are limited in the number of calls they can handle at one time, additional base stations must be built to meet growing demand for mobile phones. At present, some 6,700 cellular base stations (antenna clusters), erected by Israel's four cellular phone operators, support these phones.

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The environmental threshold is based on the precautionary principle which calls for reaching the lowest possible radiation levels using available technology at reasonable cost. In effect, the environmental threshold is meant to balance two interests: the interest of using radiation sources for public benefit and the interest of not harming (either in terms of health or finance) residents or people in the vicinity of radiation sources. While just about everyone in Israel has a cell phone, people are increasingly concerned about the growing number of antennas erected in their neighborhoods. Therefore, in keeping with its policy of transparency and access to information, the Ministry of the Environment provides information to the general public and to professionals alike by means of its website, brochures and information sheets. The ministry’s Hebrew website provides information, by means of an interactive map, on the location and safety standards of operating base stations (http://gis.sviva.gov. il) throughout the country. The map, in Hebrew, allows anyone, anywhere, to access information on base stations in their area of residence including information on: the cellular operator, type of base station, exact location, date of erection permit, date of operational permit, date of last measurement, radiation intensity (in microwatts per centimeter), percent of the health standard established by the World Health Organization, and even a photograph of the type of base station. In recent months, in order to make information on planned cell sites available to the public prior to their erection, the Ministry of the Environment has begun to provide information on those base stations scheduled for erection on the following month. The information includes details on the location of planned cell sites and the date that the operational permit was granted.

Photo: Alex Kaplan

Radiation Exposure Thresholds in Israel
The health threshold for exposure to non-ionizing radiation defines the exposure level assuring that health damage will not be caused. This threshold is based on known adverse impacts, especially to the most sensitive populations such as children, the ailing or the elderly. The health standard established by the Ministry of the Environment is based on ICNIRP recommendations. The health threshold relates to acute (short term) exposure. The environmental threshold for exposure to nonionizing radiation, set by the Ministry of the Environment, takes account of the health threshold, the possibility of additional risks, the expectations of Israeli society for protection from these risks, and the ability of Israeli society to finance measures for risk reduction. The environmental threshold relates to chronic, continuous and prolonged exposure. In areas where exposure is not continuous and prolonged, such as roofs, yards, sidewalks, parks and other such areas, the Environment Ministry does not approve the erection of facilities which may temporarily expose people to non-ionizing radiation levels which exceed 30% of the health threshold.

Transparency of information on radiation from cellular antennas is a priority

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Nahariya coast. photo: Ilan Malester