KKL-JNF's Eyes in the Forest - The Horshim Forest Green Patrol

Monday, September 29, 2014 3:45 PM

"You're a crowd, and that gives you the strength to protect this incredible site."

A new volunteer patrol for Horshim Forest holds its first meeting in order to coordinate activities. The patrol will prevent hazards in the forest, will report on special incidents and assist visitors. During the meeting, a new app produced by KKL-JNF's IT department, which will enable volunteers to report special matters directly to the KKL-JNF forester, was introduced to the group.

First Horshim Forest Green Patrol meeting. Photo: Tania Susskind

"There are many villages around Horshim Forest, with a variety of people who have a variety of opinions. Even so, we all want the same thing – that the forest should be healthy, taken care of and serve everyone." KKL-JNF Sharon Region Forester Sinai Paz-Tal was speaking on Wednesday, September 24, at the first meeting of volunteers for the Horshim Forest Green Patrol.

"I can't be here all the time, so the Forest Green Patrol will be like my eyes. Whatever you see that seems out of place, like garbage, illegal tree cutting, animal traps, or whatever, report it to me immediately.
For example, volunteer Dan Adar saw an event in the forest last Wednesday, and the people participating in it didn't clean up after they left. He managed to find out who they were, and it turned out that they came from a well-known company.

Forester Sinai Paz-Tal. Photo: Tania Susskind
I called the company up and told them that they had a day and a half to clean the area up, and if not, I'll publicize their name in the media, Facebook, everywhere. The next day the forest was perfectly clean."

Horshim Forest, which is located in Israel's Sharon region, covers an area of about 7,000 dunams and includes walking and biking trails and recreation areas. KKL-JNF wants people to come to its forests, and the job of the volunteers is to educate the visitors, not to police them.

Volunteers receive KKL-JNF shirts, garbage bags and whatever else they need.
According to KKL-JNF Volunteers Coordinator Yael Banin, the forest green patrol has three major goals: to identify hazards or special things like wildflowers or animals; to answer questions people have like where is there water or where do the trails lead to; and to be forest ambassadors that promote its welfare. "We don't have so many green lungs in this region, so it's really important to protect what we do have," she concluded.

Raheli instructs group on how to use the Collector app. Photo: Tania Tania Susskind

Yael introduced Raheli from a software company that works with KKL-JNF, who explained about KKL-JNF's new "Collector" smartphone application that will allow volunteers to report unusual happenings in the forest directly to forester Sinai.

This is the first group that will be using the new app, and Raheli explained to everyone how to download and to use it.
Besides messages, it is also possible to send pictures, and the app identifies the volunteer's exact location and time the message is being sent. 
, Educational Coordinator for the Local Unit for Environmental Protection, said that she was very excited to see people taking the initiative to protect nature. "It has a huge impact," she said. "Sinai is just one person, but you're a crowd, and that gives you the strength to protect this incredible site, which attracts hundreds of people who come on weekends for picnicking, hiking, biking and more. Your connection with KKL-JNF is the beginning of something big, something that will last a long time."

Avital Yogev. Photo: Tania Susskind

Avital Yogev from the Horshim Forest Steering Committee, one of the initiators of the Green Patrol, said that it all began with residents from local villages who got together to envision the forest's future. "Although formal responsibility is in the hands of organizations like KKL-JNF, it's still our job as the forest's neighbors to protect it and care for it. We set up teams that deal with cultural activities in the forest, infrastructure improvement and of course the green patrol. We already have 40 volunteers, and the cooperation with KKL-JNF is excellent, something we don't take for granted."
Dan Adar from Kibbutz Horshim said: "My wife and I have been trying to protect the forest on our own for the past fifty years, and finally, we're no longer alone. People come here from all over, from Petah Tikvah, Hod Hasharon, even Herzliya. This is an amazing forest, and after the rains, the wildflowers that bloom here are incredible."

Hadas, a Green Patrol volunteer. Photo: Tania Susskind

Bentzi from nearby Moshav Yarhiv said that he lives here, "and I know this forest and love it, which is why I volunteered for the Green Patrol. I think it's also important for our children to see the example parents give when they take responsibility for green spaces near their homes."

Hadas, who is also from Yarhiv, said that the environment is very important for her. "It was actually a feeling of pain and sorrow that made me volunteer – the pain that I feel when I come to the forest and see the garbage that people just leave or throw away. It's important that the last parcels of green that we have left in this region should be preserved for us and for future generations."

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