JNF aims to raise $10m. for reforestation and firefighting

JNF aims to raise $10m. for reforestation and firefighting

07 Dezember 2010

published by www.jpost.com

Israel —  In the wake of the destruction of the Carmel forest fire, Americans this week are attempting to lend a hand to the embattled region in any way they can, even as research continues as to what the best way to help the region might be.

By last Thursday morning, Jewish National Fund Director of Communications Jodi Bodner said, “It was clear this was already becoming a horrible, horrible fire.”

JNF is the sole fundraising arm in America for Israel’s fire and rescue services, and had sent nearly 60 compact fire trucks to Israel over the past few years, as well as other fire equipment and assistance building fire stations.

Last Thursday, JNF launched an emergency fundraising campaign for firefighting equipment – “You can’t do anything about the trees while they’re burning,” Bodner said – and raised $1.5 million from donors in under a week.

JNF’s newest campaign, Operation Northern Renewal – From Black To Green, began Monday. Its goal is to raise $10 million for reforesting and firefighting efforts. Bodner was unsure of how raised funds would be divided between the two goals. Bodner said JNF CEO Russell Robinson and other JNF officials are currently in Israel in order to assess the country’s and region’s needs.

“The forests up north have been a huge boom to tourism industry,” Bodner said. “It’s really important to get back on track and it takes a long time – it takes 50 to 60 years to regrow a forest to what it was.”

Experts at the University of Haifa have said they generally oppose planting of young trees in the aftermath of a fire, as this could potentially interfere with natural restoration.

Bodner said she believes the JNF, pending consultations with both American and Israeli forestry experts, will not plant anything for a year in the region, “to see where nature takes us.”

“Natural regeneration comes first,” Bodner said, noting that favoring natural regeneration was also JNF’s approach to the areas of forest destroyed by the Second Lebanon War.

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