KKL-JNF: For a Sustainable Future for Israel


KKL-JNF was founded in 1901 and since then it has served as the operational arm of Zionism. In the name of the Jewish people, KKL-JNF bought 2.6 million dunams of land, prepared land for agriculture, founded settlements and laid the foundations for the establishment of the state of Israel. KKL-JNF works for sustainable development of the country, both ecological and social, and to preserve Israel's environmental resources for the sake of future generations.

Forests and forestry

As the state's forester, in the second decade of the 21st century KKL-JNF has planted and cares for 400,000 dunams of natural woodland and another 400,000 dunams of grazing pasture. The master plan that KKL-JNF develops for each forest determines the status of the forests and gives statutory protection to existing and future forests.

KKL-JNF is changing its attitude to forest management. It aspires to manage the land, not the trees that grow there, and to intervene in the life of the forest as little as possible, according to its designation. Thus, for example, it does not hurry to plant trees to replace a forest that has burned down, but examines the area's natural renewal capability. The pioneering forests planted by KKL-JNF are gradually giving way to a new generation of forests. Israel's future forest will be a product based on scientific research, on trees from excellent plant sources that are suited to their environment and on monitoring and management that suit the forest's aims.
KKL-JNF plants nectar trees, which serve as pasture for bees and also security forests that hide the Gaza Envelope settlements from the eyes of the enemy in the Gaza Strip. KKL-JNF's desert forests contribute a special green hue. KKL-JNF dedicates special attention to combating desertification, a destructive process that turns fertile lands into wastelands due to incorrect farming, overuse and climate changes. KKL-JNF has accumulated much experience in reversing the process and increasing the fertility of poor land, for the benefit of both humans and nature.

Climate change causes an increase in the number and intensity of fires throughout the entire world. Every year hundreds of fires break out in KKL-JNF forests, whether due to the carelessness of hikers or to arson. The public does not hear of most of them, as KKL-JNF's warning and firefighting system puts out the fire before much damage is caused. This system includes observation towers and a fleet of Yaarit forest-fire trucks – compact firefighting vehicles with high navigability on the forest roads. KKL-JNF has updated its approach to rehabilitation of forests that are damaged by fire and bases it mainly on the ecosystem's natural renewal processes.
Photograph: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Water and agriculture

Israel's natural water sources cannot meet the needs of agriculture, industry and the growing population. In addition, there is a growing need to treat sewage and stop introducing it into the rivers and sea. The solution is to treat sewage and turn it into wastewater that can be reused. To enable this, there is a need for reservoirs. So far KKL-JNF has built approximately 230 reservoirs, which receive wastewater and floodwater from rivers, which would go to waste if it was not collected. The reservoirs supply cheap, available water to farmers, receive wastewater that could damage rivers and groundwater, and release drinking water for home use.
KKL-JNF is a partner in Israel's River Restoration Administration and deals with rehabilitation of rivers and their banks. The green basins of the Yarkon, for example, greatly improve the quality of the wastewater of Hod HaSharon and Kfar Saba. The purified water flows into the Yarkon and revives the river channel.
In the Hula Valley farmers abandoned thousands of dunams of dried-out peat land. In the scope of the Hula project, KKL-JNF dug canals of a total length of 90 km. and amended the situation. The canals make it possible to control the moisture level of the peat and return to farming it. The project also prevents surplus fertilizers and pesticides from flowing underground from the Hula Valley to the Sea of Galilee and helps to maintain the quality of the lake's water. The lake created by KKL-JNF in the Hula Valley serves as a refuge for waterfowl and has become one of the most important nature sites in Israel.

An innovative experimental project in field of water that KKL-JNF is involved in is the biofilter. This is a simple, but sophisticated system, in which rainwater runoff from city streets is purified by biological means, permeates into the soil and enriches the groundwater level. The water can be pumped and used for gardening in cities.

Photograph: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Science and the environment

As a professional forestry organization, KKL-JNF aspires to research and understand the significance of long-term ecological processes that take place in the forests. For this purpose, KKL-JNF operates long-term research stations in selected forests, including Yatir Forest, Martyrs Forest, Sayeret Shaked Park, Dudaim Forest and Nahal HaShita.

The research stations examine the influence over time and continuously of water management activities in the forest, the development of plants and the connection between the characteristics of the plants in the forest and the biological diversity that exists in it. The research services are carried out in partnership with the best researchers in the academic institutions in Israel. In Yatir Forest, planted at the edge of the desert, scientists from the Weizmann Institute, headed by Prof. Dan Yakir, discovered that the forests growing in Israel in semi-arid zones capture carbon dioxide in similar percentages to forests in much wetter areas.

KKL-JNF's foresters also deal with finding natural enemies for forest pests and have had much success in biological pest control of the eucalyptus gall wasp, a pest that causes immense economic losses worldwide.

KKL-JNF also deals with applied research on storing renewable energy and utilizing the areas of reservoirs as an infrastructure for solar electricity production installations. KKL-JNF collaborates with international bodies such as the United States Forest Service (USFS), the International Arid Lands Convention (IALC) and the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO).

Photograph: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Education and youth

KKL-JNF's Education and Community Division sets itself a goal of educating towards a love of Israel and a love of the country and connecting educators and educates to Jewish identity and Zionist values, to the forest and to preserving nature values.

The Division develops teaching plans to teach these messages in experiential, enriching and enjoyable ways. In this framework KKL-JNF operates special educational programs in formal education frameworks in schools and in informal education – youth movements, community centers, service year etc. These programs include, among other things, education and empowerment in the periphery, hikes in the framework of Green Horizons hiking groups, operating a mobile educational unit, orienteering games and study kits and educational products.

The Division operates field and forest centers: the field centers offer possibilities of overnight stays, educational programs and trips. The field centers are located in Tzippori Forest, Lavi Forest, Shuni, Nes Harim and Yatir.

The Division organizes special programs for Jewish youth from abroad, both in their communities and for groups from abroad who visit Israel.

Photograph: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Leisure and recreation

KKL-JNF sees forests as an important social resource. True to this approach, KKL-JNF opens the forests to the public and develops in them infrastructure for ecological tourism and spending time in nature. KKL-JNF has prepared approximately a thousand recreation areas in its forests, which during the year receive millions of visitors. KKL-JNF marks walking and cycle trails in the forests, builds scenic lookouts, nurtures heritage sites and has established a network of ornithology sites and birdwatching hides.

KKL-JNF organizes guided tours and events to bring the public in Israel close to nature. KKL-JNF forests are open to the public free of charge throughout the year. In some of the forests and recreation areas, KKL-JNF allows individuals and groups to camp overnight.

Photograph: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

For the community

KKL-JNF regards its forests and the land it manages as socially important as well as environmentally important. KKL-JNF makes recreation areas, trails and scenic lookouts accessible for people with disabilities, so that they too can enjoy being in nature.

KKL-JNF works to connect the community to the nature around it. One of the tools for this is the community forest, which utilizes the woods and forests planted by KKL-JNF near cities and villages. The community forest is a partnership between KKL-JNF, the community and the local authority. The residents' representatives receive tools to get to know the forest adjacent to their city and KKL-JNF develops trails, paths for healthy walking and facilities according to the residents' needs.

KKL-JNF establishes parks in cities and villages throughout Israel. The parks give the residents somewhere to relax and contribute to their identification with the place they live in.

KKL-JNF also initiates community campaigns for the environment such as World Cleanup Day and the Adopt an Acacia campaign, during which residents of the Central Arava collected seeds of acacia trees with the help of KKL-JNF and germinated them to produce saplings that were planted instead of trees that had died. KKL-JNF also offers a volunteering framework for people who want to contribute to their environment in a variety of ways.

Photograph: KKL-JNF Photo Archive


Before the establishment of the state, KKL-JNF already carried out and was a partner to pathbreaking projects, which changed reality. These projects include establishing the Tower & Stockade settlements (1936-9), founding the three border lookouts of Gvulot, Beit Eshel and Revivim (1943) and establishing 11 settlements in the Negev in the middle of the night (1946).

Since then, and until the second decade of the 21th century, KKL-JNF has executed thousands of projects on Israel's land. These projects include establishing hilltop villages in the Galilee, buildings security roads on Israel's borders, preparing land for agriculture and for living in the Arava, the Golan and the Negev, developing public areas in cities, installing mobile shelters in border villages, and building infrastructure for settlements that absorb the people evacuated from Gush Katif.

Photograph: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Donations and recognition

KKL-JNF's Fundraising Division works in the second decade of the 21st century in more than 55 countries and maintains a connection with Jewish organizations worldwide. Some 35 KKL-JNF offices (independent friends' associations abroad) that represent the major Jewish communities abroad are in direct and constant contact with the relevant representatives in the Division's head office in Jerusalem and with KKL-JNF emissaries worldwide.
The Division is responsible for raising funds for joint projects of communities and individuals that take place in Israel for the country's population.

Fundraising for KKL-JNF activity is a means of connecting the Jewish people to its land. The Division deals with wills of people who have chosen to bequeath money to KKL-JNF activity, maintains contact with the donors and deals with recognition of donors – ceremonies, recording them in Books of Honor, accompanying visits of donors and delegations from abroad and putting up dignified recognition signs.

Photograph: KKL-JNF Photo Archive