Many springs emanate in Ramot Menashe Forests, most of which flow eastwards to the Jezreel Valley and Nahal Kishon. The small springs (for example, Ein Kini, Ein Gahar, Ein HaKfar, and Ein Shulamit) are fed by local precipitation. Therefore, their water flow is seasonal – and usually decreases greatly in the summer.
Ein Shulamit is a small, seasonal spring, which emanates in Nahal Mishmar HaEmek in Ramot Menashe Forest. Until the 1960s, the spring's water was captured and used to water saplings in the KKL-JNF nursery where trees were grown for planting the Menashe Forests. The spring's water was pumped from the concrete pool built by KKL-JNF that still exists in the area in which it emanates.
At the end of the 1960s, Kibbutz Mishmar HaEmek received permission from the Water Commission to capture the spring's water in a pipe and use it for agriculture in the Jezreel Valley. In recent years, the spring's water has been released from agricultural use – and today the area of the spring's source can be rehabilitated, and the water can be returned to nature and to the public.
The Chief Scientist's unit in KKL-JNF, together with the planners and Ramot Menashe foresters, are drawing up plans to rehabilitate the source of Ein Shulamit spring. The plan combines hydrological and ecological rehabilitation – rehabilitation of the water's natural flow and a suitable habitat for plants and animals that live in water, with rehabilitation of the area for the enjoyment and safety of visitors to the forest.
Conserving Nature and Scenery in KKL-JNF Springs
Springs are an important wetland in the arid environment in Israel. The springs, even if they are small and seasonal, preserve unique biological diversity, which includes special and unusual species of plants and animals that live in wetlands – in and around the water.
Three species of amphibians: the southern banded newt, Middle East tree frog and the Levant water frog, reproduce in Ein Shulamit. All species of amphibians in Israel are in danger of extinction, because of the drainage, pollution and destruction of wetlands.
The southern banded newt (Ommatotriton vittatus) is a very rare species of amphibian. Unlike frogs and toads, newts have a tail during their entire life cycle. The southern banded newt breeds mainly in temporary bodies of water – seasonal springs, winter ponds, and shallow river channels, most of which dry up before summer. The newt tadpoles develop in the spring's water in the winter and spring months.
The southern banded newt populations in Israel are small and scattered, and the entire species is in severe danger of extinction.
Visitors paddling in small springs in the mating season of the newts and other amphibians endanger their continued existence in springs in Israel. Therefore, KKL-JNF promotes programs to rehabilitate springs in the forests for the benefit of nature conservation, as well as regulating visits to springs on the sources' slopes. Thus, it will be possible to conserve species of amphibians that are in danger of extinction in Israel, and at the same time to paddle and refresh oneself in the springs' waters safely and enjoyably.
The attached (Hebrew) presentation
presents the information on which the planning will be based: Investigation of the hydrological, ecological and environmental situation in Ein Shulamit and in Nahal Mishmar HaEmek. In the presentation you can also see photographs of the southern banded newt taken in Ein Shulamit.