Community forests have become more important all over the world as green areas surounding developed areas and as an essential environmental resource for the quality of life of urban residents. They are usually characterized by their proximity to residential neighborhoods, and they mainly serve the people who live in the adjacent communities. The physical closeness of the community forest to a residential neighborhood facilitates the creation of a sense of belonging and commitment of the community to the forest by means of involving the community n the forest interface—in its planning stages, development, maintenance, community forest activity programming and the establishment of public support for preservation of the forest.
A community forest has many benefits, from taking an evening stroll away from the urban buzz to bringing the rhythm and values of nature into the city, providing possibilities for improving physical and mental health, and reducing air pollution. It is a powerful tool for sustaining the connection between city dwellers and nature, and it contributes to the quality of social consciousness in the city.
The Nations Grove – Trees of Peace, Cooperation and Brotherhood
Below Yad Vashem, in the heart of the Jerusalem Forest, KKL-JNF created a special grove, the Nations Grove, where heads of state from all over the world are invited to plant trees symbolizing peace, cooperation and brotherhood. World leaders on state visits to Israel, who go to nearby Yad Vashem, the museum commemorating those who perished in the Holocaust, plant a tree afterwards in the earth of Jerusalem, which symbolizes life and continuity.
The grove was founded in 2003, initiated by KKL-JNF and the Foreign Ministry, and it is now part of the Olive Tree Route, which was created in Israel as part of the UNESCO and EU project for promoting intercultural dialogue and peace among the nations of the region, through the advancement of sustainable development and agricultural tourism.