116 Years of KKL-JNF, 70 Years of a Thriving Israel

Over the 116 years of its existence, KKL-JNF has adapted itself to Israel’s changing reality and to the needs of a twenty-first century state.
 

 
Happy Birthday to KKL-JNF!
 
KKL-JNF is celebrating its 116th anniversary on the19th of the Hebrew lunar month of Tevet (January 6, 2018). That was the day KKL-JNF was founded at the Fifth Zionist Congress in Basel – a perfect date, as that was when the first furrow was dug in the land of Israel, in Petah Tikva.
 
Over the 116 years of its existence, KKL-JNF has adapted itself to Israel’s changing reality and to the needs of a twenty-first century state.
 
 
From its early beginings purchasing lands in the Land of Israel which would later determine the boundaries of the state, today, KKL-JNF's main focus is on strenghening Israel's peripheral regions, educating for Zionist and social values, and strengthening international relations in order to create a better and greener world. These fields of activity are all carried out under KKL-JNF's guiding principles of sustainability, which strikes a balance between the human developmental needs and the natural environment.

Strengthening Israel's periphery regions

One of KKL-JNF’s major goals is to increase the population of the Galilee to half a million and of the Negev to one million inhabitants over the next ten years. This involves creating infrastructures for communities, ecological landscape development, parks, community forests, eco-tourism as a source of livelihood, and much more. As one local Negev mayor put it: “Without KKL-JNF, we simply wouldn’t be here.”
 
From Netiv Ha’asarah on the border of the Gaza Strip, where KKL-JNF dedicated a new neighborhood for 71 families, to a new park and neighborhood in Metula, Israel’s northernmost community, KKL-JNF continued in 2017 to do everything possible to improve quality of life in Israel’s social and geographical peripheral regions, along with making them attractive for new residents.
 
In addition, KKL-JNF is working change the social disadvantage experienced by outlying cities and towns with its exciting new project "KKL-JNF Houses" for youth. In 2018, the first KKL-JNF House will open in Upper Nazareth, the first of ten in Israel’s outlying regions, which will help youth overcome disadvantage and strive for excellence.

Striving for a Sustainable Israel

Over the past few years, sustainability has been at the top of KKL-JNF’s agenda, and 2017 was no exception. Along with sponsoring research and practical conferences on the subject, KKL-JNF promoted some new and exciting projects, such as the ‘Easy to Breathe’ initiative, which, in conjunction with local and national government bodies, aims to reduce air pollution nation-wide. Operating in the ‘Easy to Breathe’ framework is the ‘Clean Car Revolution’, which has begun with the introduction of 25 new electric busses to Haifa’s bus fleet, and the retrofitting of solar energy systems to old public buildings in Israel’s outlying regions.  Many of these projects are pilots that we hope will herald a major revolution in the quality of life for Israelis, and to ensure a sustainable balance between the needs of people and the environment for both present and future generations.
 
The most sure-fire way to preserve a sustainable balance between nature and development is to connect people to nature. KKL-JNF continues to provide local residents and tourists with good reasons to spend time in the many and extraordinarily diverse terrains Israel has to offer. Over the past year, KKL-JNF continued developing hiking and cycling trails throughout the country, such as the new Ahihud single in northern Israel and the Nahal Gdora-Benzenou Urban Trail in Kiryat Bialik.  Thanks to KKL-JNF’s efforts, bike riding, which in the not-so-distant past was only for the initiated few, has now become extremely popular. Israel boasts some internationally acclaimed birdwatching sites, and during 2017, KKL-JNF dedicated the Rosh Tzippor Birdwatching Center in the middle of the Tel Aviv, along with a bird viewing platform in the Emek Hefere region. The new cutting-edge visitors’ center at the Ilanot Arboretum merges technology and the forest in ways never seen before.  These and other projects carried out by KKL-JNF over the past year helped bridge the gap between the hustle and bustle of modern life and the great outdoors.

Educating for Zionist and social values

As a Zionist and environmental organization, KKL-JNF’s mission is to strengthen the connection between the people and its land through value-based education and promoting programs that develop young leadership in Israel and abroad. In 2017, this goal was advanced by events such as the World Education Conference, which was attended by around one hundred educators from France, Belgium and Morocco, together with an equal number of participants from all over Israel.
 
Youth movement members from Israel and abroad participated in conferences and team-building activities, including a two-day raft building challenge and a festive Tu BiShvat seder at KKL-JNF’s Nes Harim Field and Forest Center. And what better way could there be to learn about green Zionist leadership than spending a week in nature on the Green Horizons Desert Wilderness Survival Program?

Strengthening international relations

2017 marked a number of important milestones in KKL-JNF’s international efforts to foster collaborations against environmental challenges. As an internationally acclaimed worldwide leader in afforestation and combatting desertification, KKL-JNF is a regular observer in United Nations conferences. In 2017, KKL-JNF representatives attended the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (COP13) in Ordos, China, the 12th UN Forum on Forests in New York from 1st-5th of May, and the UN Biodiversity Conference that took place in Cancun, Mexico. KKL-JNF also signed three agreements - one with a college in Mexico to import the Mexican ladybug as a safe biological pest control against the Cochineal scale insect, which has been infesting fields in northern Israel; an agreement with the Environmental Ministry in Argentina for joint environmental collaboration; and a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kenya Forest Service for the exchange of knowlege in the areas of water management and afforestation in arid and semi arid regions. These are just a few of the ways that KKL-JNF addresses key global issues and spreads its environmental advances beyond Israel’s borders.
 
Another way of strengthens relations between Israel and other countries is through the iconic Grove of Nations, which was first established by KKL-JNF in 2005. The grove is located in the valley just beneath the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. Visiting heads of state are invited to plant a tree here after their visit to Yad Vashem as a way of connecting to life and leaving a lasting memory in the land of Israel. As of 2017, 115 heads of state have planted trees in the Grove of Nation, and their visits are commemorated by a stone plaque marking the occasion. Among the distinguished leaders who planted trees in 2017 were Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull and New Zealand Governor General Dame Patricia Lee Reddy, who were on a historic visit to Israel commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba in which the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) liberated the city from the Turks and Germans.

KKL-JNF's friends and partners around the world

KKL-JNF's friends and partners around the world

KKL-JNF's partners around the world support numerous projects in the fields of forestry, agriculture, water and community development, improving the quality of life for people in Israel and around the world.

Projects advanced by KKL-JNF in 2017

Projects advanced by KKL-JNF in 2017

In honor of our 116th year, we present our readers with small taste of some of the projects undertaken/advanced in 2017.