In November 2016, at a ceremony held at the birdwatching center, plaques in honor of Marc and Eva Besen of Australia, who had made a generous donation to the park, were unveiled. During the event, ninety-three-year-old Marc Besen recalled meeting David Ben Gurion in Sde Boker.
“I asked Ben Gurion ‘What needs to be done to make the Negev bloom?’” he informed his audience, before continuing: “And he answered me, ‘We need birds here. If there are birds, people will come, too.’”
Gush Dan, however, is not the Negev and it is home to large numbers of people. But the time has come to take care of the birds, too, and this is exactly what the new birdwatching center does.
“In the autumn large numbers of migratory birds on their way from Europe to Africa arrive on Israel’s shores,” explained KKL-JNF’s Chief Ornithologist Yaron Charka. “We’ve identified a lot of birds that fly from Cyprus to the Gush Dan area during migration, and that is why it was important for us to construct a well-stocked habitat that offers these migratory birds a way station where they can rest and refuel. In Gush Dan this is especially important, because, apart from being the most densely populated part of the country, it also has more invasive species than anywhere else in Israel: flocks of Indian myna and vinous-breasted starlings, for example, can be observed in Rosh Tzipor Forest.”