Rio +20: Learning Center for Sustainable Development

Thursday, June 21, 2012 3:52 PM

KKL-JNF opens a learning center for sustainable development at the Rio +20 Conference, along with a workshop on floodwater harvesting and afforestation as means to rehabilitate degraded lands.

On Wednesday, June 20, KKL-JNF opened a learning center for sustainable development at the Rio +20 Conference, along with a workshop on floodwater harvesting and afforestation as means to rehabilitate degraded lands. The workshop was honored by record attendance, about 100 people from 30 countries including Nigeria, Brazil, Zambia, Bolivia, Chile, Malaysia, Colombia, Philippines, USA, Venezuela, Spain, Botswana, Germany, Sri Lanka, Namibia, Macau, France, Mongolia and Argentina. The workshop evoked a great deal of interest, and the hall was filled to the maximum.

Dr. David Brand presents KKL-JNF certificate to MP Gilad Erdan. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

The event was organized together with Israel Environment Minister Gilad Erdan, MK Carmel Shama Hacohen and members of the Israeli delegation to the Rio +20 Conference.
Minister Erdan opened the workshop by commending KKL-JNF's major contribution to developing ecological awareness in Israel. Minister Erdan remarked on the fact that KKL-JNF is perhaps the oldest organization in the world that has been involved with sustainable development, since its establishment in 1901. The Minister also said that thanks to KKL-JNF, the State of Israel is the only country in the world that has more trees in this century than it had in the last century, and, if Mark Twain were to visit Israel today, he would certainly not describe it as a wasteland, which he did after his trip to Israel in 1867.

At the learning center. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Dr. David Brand
, KKL-JNF Chief Forester and head of the KKL-JNF delegation to the Rio +20 Conference, presented Minister Erdan with a certificate for planting 259 trees in Yatir Forest in the Negev, to offset the carbon emissions from the jet that flew the members of the Israeli delegation from Tel Aviv to Rio de Janeiro. Workshop participants responded with enthusiastic applause for the presentation of the certificate and the tree planting for the prevention of global warming.
At the KKL-JNF learning center, Ms. Maria Martinho, representing the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), introduced the experts from KKL-JNF at the workshop, Dr. David Brand and Mr. Itzhak Moshe, KKL-JNF Deputy Director of the Southern Region, who spoke about the principles of rehabilitating land in the process of desertification by means of special afforestation methods for semi-arid regions, floodwater harvesting and soil preservation. Dr. Brand spoke on the topic of tree species improvement for resistance to dryness, and sophisticated methods for growing saplings in nurseries, which allow for the production of high quality saplings that can develop quickly and firmly in arid conditions.
Dr. Brand also spoke on the topic of invasive species in forests. The first part of the lecture focused on biological methods of dealing with forest tree pests, and the successful KKL-JNF project for biological control of eucalyptus gall wasps was presented as a test case. KKL-JNF is a currently a pioneer and leader in this field and markets natural adversaries for such pests to many countries in the world free of charge. The second part of the lecture discussed the options for combating invasive vegetation that causes damage to indigenous vegetation. As an example, the KKL-JNF project involving the golden wattle was presented.

Presenting a gift to Ms. Mario Martinho. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Following the presentations there was an open forum, and participants posed many questions. One of the questions was asked by the Palestinian representative: "I see that you help many countries throughout the world. Why don't you help the countries that are closest to you?"
David Brand answered that only recently, KKL-JNF held a number of professional workshops on the topic of creating forests and fighting and preventing fires. The head of the forestry service of the Palestinian Authority, along with forty Palestinian foresters, participated in these workshops, which were held in Israel.
At the conclusion of the workshop, many participants came to the podium to congratulate the speakers, and they expressed interest in joint projects and future knowledge sharing. Among them were senior executives of companies in Zambia, research assistants from environmental research centers in the USA, members of the official delegation from Botswana and a youth project coordinator from the UN.
After the workshop, the KKL-JNF delegation attended a cocktail reception organized by the Israeli Embassy in Brazil, where Israel Environment Minister Gilad Erdan and Mr. Rafi Eldad, Israel Ambassador to Brazil, were among the honored guests.

KKL-JNF Representatives at Meetings and Lectures at the Rio +20 Conference

KKL-JNF booth materials. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Itzhak Moshe and Carmel Shama Hacohen. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Earlier, on Monday, June 18, Dr. David Brand and Mr. Itzhak Moshe attended various discussions and toured the area of booths. At the USA booth, they participated in a lecture on the assistance that the USA offers to South American countries for monitoring glaciers, and changes due to global warming.
Brand and Moshe joined Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Naomi Tzur for a visit to the Israel – KKL-JNF booth. They were received by KKL-JNF representatives Alejandra Kadden and Michael Edri, and the Chairman of KKL-JNF Brazil, Marcelo Czapnik, in the KKL-JNF section, which drew a great deal of attention and many visitors.
KKL-JNF representatives also took part in a side event organized by Google Earth, where the presentation focused on the assistance offered by the organization to tribes in the Amazon region in Brazil in the fields of education, historic documentation and monitoring forest conditions. The aim is to educate the younger generation in forest preservation. The main work is done in conjunction with the US Forest Service, USAID and American organizations dedicated to the training of indigenous tribes by creating a database that uses Google infrastructure.
Argentinian Environment Minister Diego Santilli, who recently inaugurated the recreational equipment in KKL-JNF Park in Buenos Aires, went over to the KKL-JNF representatives and told the members of his delegation about KKL-JNF's extensive work. He said he was eagerly looking forward to visit KKL-JNF projects in Israel.