Type of forest: A mature forest of Jerusalem pine (planted in 1968)
Location: Martyrs Forest is located east of Route 38 (the Sha’ar ha-Gai–Beit Shemesh Highway) and north of the Eshta’ol-Tzova Junction in the Nahal Sorek basin (Nahal Kisalon secondary basin). The research area, which covers roughly 200 dunams, is on the western edge of the forest near Mesillat Zion.
Climate: Typical Mediterranean climate with annual precipitation of roughly 500 millimeters
Topography: The research area, which is 390 to 510 meters above sea level, is typified by a topographical turning point westward on an average incline of approximately 25 percent.
Geology: The geology, which dates from the Upper Cenomanian-Toronian Age, is massive dolomite structures of the Judea Group (Bina formation) on top of hard karstic chalk (Vradim formation) with a small presence of chalk that became nari. The ground is lithologically uniform and mostly covered by rock.
Soil: The soil is shallow brown terra rossa (on top of dolomite), washed red terra rossa (on top of the hard chalk) and rendzina mixed with terra rossa (near nari).
Forestry history: The forest in the research area was planted in the 1960s as part of Martyrs Forest, which was established to commemorate the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. As was customary at the time, most of the trees that were planted were coniferous, many of them Jerusalem pine. The planting density was originally 250 trees per dunam, though it seems that a one-time thinning operation was performed in the forest sometime between the planting and the establishment of the research area. Although the area was declared a national park in the 1970s, KKL-JNF continued to manage the forest.
Goats owned by Bedouin were brought from the Negev to graze seasonally beginning in the 1980s, but this was stopped when the construction of the research area began in 2008. Research began in 2009 after completion of a thinning operation.