A Legacy of Achievements
In 1953 a group of scientists and concerned citizens joined together to protest the draining of the Hula Valley swamp in Northern Israel, claiming it would destroy the rich natural resources dependent upon the valley. This group became the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and set in motion a tradition of citizen involvement aimed at protecting Israel’s environmental assets against the consequences of unbridled development. Indeed, SPNI is the largest independent membership organization in Israel, with over 100,000 members (an equivalent organization in the United States would have a membership base of 5 million.)
Today, SPNI leads the public and decision-makers in the search for environmentally sustainable and economically sound ways to promote growth while protecting Israel’s unique environmental heritage. Through education, organizing public involvement, informing decision-makers and proposing creative solutions to development plans, SPNI has established an impressive list of achievements, including:
- The 2004 Coastal Law – this national law forbids new construction and development in any area less than 300 meters from the coastline. With only 50 kilometers (31 miles) left of undeveloped coastal space, this legislation is a major accomplishment.
- Creation of the Ayalon Park in the Tel-Aviv region – Israel’s National Planning Council unanimously established the park, which will be built on what was once central Israel’s largest landfill.
- Partial re-flooding of the Hula Valley Swamp – the swamp serves hundreds of millions of migrating birds and has become a popular visitor attraction and education center.
- Establishing and identifying the lands that have become Israel’s Parks and Preserves.
- Creating Field Schools and Local Branches – at these facilities Israeli school children, adults, and new immigrant groups, in their native tongues, are taught to appreciate Israel’s natural environment.
- Initiating a successful Public Campaign to Save Israel’s Wildflowers
- Operating Nature Tours and Day Hikes – thousands of Israelis and tourists learn about Israel and her unique environmental assets through the eyes of SPNI’s knowledgeable guides.