Israel — Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan submitted to the cabinet on Sunday the interministerial report on rehabilitating the natural aspects of the Carmel mountain range after the devastating fire there earlier this month.
According to the report, NIS 200.7 million will be needed over the next four years to restore the area and prevent similar fires.
The report recommends allowing nature to do its part to rehabilitate the area rather than rushing to plant millions of trees. Fire causes pine cones to burst and disperse seeds for new growth, and with the rains of the weekend that followed the disaster, the rehabilitation process is already under way.
Instead, the plan proposes funding activities such as building optical electric systems to detect fires, refurbishing landfills and garbage dumps, and returning cows and goats to the area.
In addition, arrowheads of cleared land should be established between the forest and the surrounding communities, more fire trucks should be purchased and the water infrastructure reinforced. A central control center should be established on the Carmel, more inspectors should be hired to conduct enforcement and more education for students and daytrippers should be instituted, according to the proposal.
The plan also envisions pruning forests to remove dead trees in danger of toppling or dead branches that could help a fire spread.
The plan proposes spending the sum over the next four years as follows: NIS 95.4m. in 2011, NIS 55.4m. in 2012, NIS 37.3m. in 2013 and NIS 12.6m. in 2014.
An interministerial committee was formed immediately following the blaze and included representatives from the Agriculture Ministry, the Treasury, the Nature and Parks Authority, the Jewish National Fund/Keren Kayemet LYisrael, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, the IDF, firefighters and academics.
A separate committee has been formed to submit a plan on how to rehabilitate the moshavim and municipalities that were damaged.
The fire destroyed about 32,000 dunams (3,200 hectares) or a third of the Carmel nature reserve in four days. Thousands of wild animals are believed to have been killed and many more fled with little chance they will return until the land once again can provide food for them.