Businesses Help with Environmental Conservation

Psagot Commemorates Yitzhak Talmor with Green Woodland

Thursday, April 19, 2012 2:33 PM

Psagot, Israel’s largest investment house, has recently joined a number of other major Israeli business concerns that are working for the benefit and conservation of the country’s environment.

Psagot, Israel’s largest investment house, has recently joined a number of other major Israeli business concerns that are working for the benefit and conservation of the country’s environment, and it has just dedicated its first wooded area of 2,500 eucalyptus trees. The woodland will be established on the loess hills north of Beersheba and will form part of the Negev capital’s growing green belt initiated and developed by KKL-JNF.

Yitzchak Talmor's family, Amir Gil and Michael Ben Abu with KKL-JNF certificate of appreciation. Photo: Gabi Bron

The first few dozen trees were planted at a modest ceremony attended by senior members of the Psagot staff, headed by CEO Ronen Tov. Psagot dedicated the woodland in memory of one of the investment house’s former senior officials, Yitzhak Talmor, who died suddenly less than two years ago at the age of fifty-four. He is commemorated by a stone plaque on an exposed hilltop in Nahal Ashan Forest, facing the yellow loess hills to the north and the northernmost buildings of Beersheba, which are just visible over the horizon.

Oren Talmor reads the Planter's Prayer. Photo: Gabi Bron

The new woodland forms part of the development of Nahal Ashan Forest, at the junction to the north of Beersheba. The ceremony was attended by Yitzhak Talmor’s widow, Rivka, and his children Oren, Keren and Noam, who were clearly moved by the event. “I must say, you’ve done a great thing here, which I find hard to put into words,” said Oren Talmor with emotion, before he read the Planter’s Prayer.
Michael Ben Abu, Director of KKL-JNF’s Israel Fundraising Department, opened the proceedings and told those present: “We are proud to be creating a sustainable green environment that will also benefit the generations to come. We are in the process of planting the future; with your contribution here today, you are responding to the summons issued by our national visionary Theodor Herzl, who called upon members of the Zionist Congress to contribute to the Jewish National Fund. Thanks to the growing cooperation between the business sector and KKL-JNF, Israel’s afforestation project continues apace, for the benefit of the general public and the battle against global warming and ever-increasing desertification.” Ben Abu told his listeners that the ancient agricultural techniques revived in recent decades by KKL-JNF foresters have ensured the survival of almost one hundred percent of all saplings planted throughout the arid Negev region over the past fifteen years.

Ronen Tov. Photo: Gabi Bron

Psagot CEO Mr. Ronen Tov was the opening speaker at the ceremony: “I didn’t know Yitzhak Talmor, as I assumed my present position after his death,” he said. “But from everything I’ve heard about him – about his modesty, his enthusiasm and his sporting attitude – I’m sure I would have loved to work with him. Our decision to plant a woodland in Yitzhak’s memory stems from our values as Israelis and our desire to get in touch with the land and everything green. This grove is being planted in memory of Yitzhak – but it is also intended to help create this green environment.”
Senior Psagot Investment Manager Amir Gil, who was a friend of Talmor’s, spoke of Yitzhak the family man and described him as having been a man of learning long before he became an expert on investments: “A tree has deep roots, it is sturdy, it provides protection from the sun and its branches and foliage extend all around it. That is how I remember Yitzhak,” he said.
Yitzhak Talmor’s widow Rivka read Natan Zach’s poem For Man is a Tree of the Field, and added, “Yitzhak continues to accompany us in spirit in this woodland of 2,500 trees, which, among other things, symbolizes the world of angels and souls. I can think of no better memorial to Itzik, for whom the scents and landscapes of the Land of Israel played an important part in life.”

Rivka Talmor. Photo: Gabi Bron

After the ceremony Rivka recounted the circumstances of her husband’s death, which occurred while she was away from home. “He went out for a bicycle ride, came back in the evening, showered, ate, went to sleep and never woke up,” she said.
At the conclusion of the moving ceremony, the Talmor family, together with dozens of members of the Psagot staff, moved over to the rows of eucalyptus saplings that were ready and waiting in their holes, and completed the planting process. Because the weather is already warm, these saplings will be watered frequently in the weeks to come. As in other planted parts of the forest, irrigation will continue here for the next three years, to ensure that the trees take root and develop properly. Psagot Investment House and the Talmor family were presented with KKL-JNF certificates of appreciation for their contribution to the environment.

A Ring of Green for Beersheba

In 1985, KKL-JNF began developing a green belt around the growing Negev metropolis. Trees were planted round the northwestern section of Beersheba, and to date over 6,250 acres (2,500 hectares) of green areas have been created. By 2018, this area is expected to have doubled. The trees planted include a mixture of eucalyptus and pine (forty percent) and broad-leaved trees such as jujube, carob, acacia, and sycamore. The development of the green belt includes the rejuvenation and rehabilitation of existing forested areas as well as planting in new plots. 
This entire project is in accord with Israel's national master plan for the afforestation and preservation of open spaces.
This project is designed to combat desertification and to improve the quality of life for residents of Beersheba and the surrounding area, including the provision of facilities for recreation and leisure. Green belts are important to any modern urban environment, but they are particularly so in the desert, where they provide a welcome respite from the surrounding landscape, which although has a beauty of its own, is nonetheless dry and dusty. The environmental development around Beersheba will include a network of bicycle paths for residents and visitors, and archaeological sites in the area will be highlighted.
KKL-JNF, together with its friends worldwide, is developing this green belt with its own particular brand of expertise. The objective is not to establish a dense forest after the European or North American model, but to create a green environment appropriate to the desert. This approach is known as savannization, and it employs techniques such as planting trees in limans, building dams to store floodwaters and constructing terraces to prevent erosion. The tree species used in this project are adapted to harsh desert conditions. Savannization has been developed at KKL-JNF as a tool for rehabilitating eroded soils, stabilizing them and preventing further erosion, thus allowing the desert to bloom. The end result will be a well-balanced desert with its unique flora and fauna.