Israel Ornithology Center

The Israel Ornithology Center (IOC) was established in 1980 by Dr. Yossi Leshem as part of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. The IOC has since developed into a major regional organization engaged in conservation, research, education and ecotourism activities aimed at protecting and preserving Israel’s avifauna. In 1999, the IOC Director, Dan Alon, received the Time Magazine award Hero of the Planet for his conservation achievements.

Why Birds

They are excellent ambassadors for conservation efforts because they:

  • Are found throughout the world and in almost all habitat types
  • Provide an accurate measurement of environmental health
  • Are enjoyed by people from around the world
  • Israel is world renowned for its rich bird life, including one of the largest migration flyways in the world, where over 500 million birds pass over twice a year.

Goals and Activities

IOC’s main goal is to protect and conserve the region’s biodiversity and natural resources through activities focused on birds. Furthermore, IOC believes in integrating research, conservation, education and ecotourism within each of its projects to create rich and diverse programming.

The IOC currently operates three Birdwatching Centers in Israel and is leading several major regional projects with Israel’s neighbors – the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. The IOC’s vision is to create a sustainable environment throughout the region, irrespective of borders – just like the birds that know no boundaries .


Activities include:

Public Awareness -Developing and implementing educational programs for schools and the community about birds, and nature conservation. The IOC works through 16 Community Centers and the network of SPNI Field Schools across the country.

Nature Conservation is the main purpose of the center’s work. Conservation activities include protection and restoration of important bird areas, development of land management plans, and rare species conservation plans.

Research is the basis on which much of our other activities depends, including surveys and monitoring of migration, wintering and nesting birds, and investigating interrelationships between people and nature.

Capacity Building and Cooperation Working with local, state and international agencies and organizations on conservation issues. Partnering with farmers to prevent conflicts with wildlife, and encourage environmentally friendly agriculture such as organic, buffer zones and biological pest control.

Ecotourism -Developing tourism services specifically for birdwatchers such as guided tours, self guided tour information, up-to-date sightings, and bird ringing stations. Creating infrastructure including bird reserves, trails and observation hides.