Nurit Hibsher, Ben Shemen Forester

The first woman forester

Identity Card

Name: Nurit Hibsher      
Position: Forester in the Ben Shemen bloc on the Coastal Plain, Central Region.
Beginnings: As an entomologist in the forest health department.  
Number of years at KKL-JNF: 1.5
Education: BA in plant protection at the Faculty of Agriculture, MA in plant sciences with specialization in forestry in the Foresters of the Future program at the Faculty of Agriculture, with the participation of KKL-JNF with the support of the Appleby family who are Friends of JNF  Canada.

Family: 31 years old, lives in Tel Aviv.

“I’ve no problem getting tough when I need to.”

What connects you to KKL-JNF?
“First of all, the trees. I love trees, nature and excursions and it’s great to be able to work at a job that’s connected to the things I love so much. If I had to sit in an office all day I’d go out of my mind.”
Tell us about your work at KKL-JNF.

Nurit Hibsher in Ben Shemen Forest. Photo: Irit Dembek

“KKL-JNF foresters do an enormous number of things: site management, managing the visitors, maintenance of picnic and playground facilities, supervising volunteers, supervising forest grazing, keeping the forest clean, helping and guiding firefighting teams when blazes break out. We work in coordination with a great many other bodies and organizations – local authorities, planning committees, the Nature and Parks Authority, the Green Patrol, contractors working in the  forest, and so forth.

“The forester’s primary method of caring for the forest is thinning. Foresters have to decide when thinning should take place, where it should be done and to what degree, depending on the type of tree, environmental conditions and the purpose of the forest. Our intention is, of course, to help the trees to develop, prevent too much competition between them and allow light to penetrate through the canopy. By doing this we benefit not only the trees themselves, but also the wildlife and herbaceous vegetation.

“Foresters have to walk around the forest, learn to know every nook and cranny and get the feel of the site. During the four months I’ve been in the job I’ve learned an enormous amount, but of course I’ve still got a very long way to go.”
Tell us about a project that has special significance for you.
 “We’re in the process of creating a new cycle trail in Shoham Park, which will connect up with the Sea to Jerusalem Cycle Trail established thanks to the Lebovic family in Canada, which links Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Cyclists are a significant part of the forest, and this trail will also be used by many of local residents and visitors to the park. The work will be carried out with the help of volunteers from within the community, and development will be kept to a minimum in order to preserve the natural atmosphere. The project’s still at a very early stage, and it’s very exciting for me to be part of the creation of something new.”
How do you view the role of women at KKL-JNF?
“Before I became familiar with the system I didn’t know where I would find myself within the organization. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make use of what I’d studied. Today I realize that KKL-JNF offers lots of opportunities for women, too. The staff are very supportive and encouraging, and they never make me feel inferior in any way.”
As KKL-JNF’s first woman forester, do you feel like a trailblazer?
“I’ve always followed my beliefs and dreams. Everyone deserves an equal opportunity, without prejudice. I believe that now that I’ve done it, other women will come to work as foresters at KKL-JNF and fill all the various positions. Of course, this is a process that takes time, and we women have to be patient and not give up.”
How did people close to you react to your new job? Did some have reservations about your decision?
“At first some of them asked me, ‘What do want to do that for – wandering around outside alone getting into confrontations with all kinds of people?’ I know that they had faith in me, but they were apparently just concerned about me. I told them that I was sure I could cope and that being a woman could be an advantage, as I could speak calmly, listen, and defuse the situation. On the other hand, I’ve no problem arguing and getting tough when I need to.”