Weil, Gilad and Noam Levin. “Can Siting Algorithms Assist in Prioritizing for Conservation in a Densely Populated and Land Use Allocated Country? – Israel as a Case Study.” Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution 61.1 (2015): 50-60.
Over the years, Israel’s centralized national planning framework and the intense competition on the limited available land played a crucial factor in designing the spatial distribution of the protected areas in Israel. When examining the spatial properties of the protected areas, it was found that they do not adequately represent the variety of the ecosystems in Israel. According to the systematic conservation planning approach, we aimed to examine how optimization algorithms (e.g., MARXAN) would inform us on high priority areas for conservation. We created proxies for anthropogenic disturbance, and for the susceptibility of designating new protected areas subject to existing national and regional land use master plans. Our conservation targets were defined on the basis of the spatial distribution of 461 endangered vertebrate and plant species (red species), as well as by defining and mapping 21 main ecosystems. The results highlight the limited options of significantly improving the representativeness provided by the existing protected areas, due to the diminishing availability of open areas, which may be available to be designated as protected areas. However, the results also emphasize the conservation potential of agricultural land, as well as the need for preserving small and fragmented rare habitats.
This paper presents Hurshat Tal (literally Dew Grove) in the Upper Galilee as a case study for one of the fiercest disputes in the history of landscape conservation in Israel. A proposal to convert this ancient grove, a sacred site for Muslims and the sole remnant of an ancient forest of Tabor oak that once extended over the country’s northern region, into a recreation resort highlights the profound differences between the desire to “beautify” and “improve” the landscape and the commitment to preserve natural and cultural remnants of the past. This paper underlines the conflict between the scientific interest of naturalists and the interests of the planning and tourism bodies, and describes the central role played by landscape architects Lipa Yahalom and Dan Zur, who endowed the ancient grove with a new visual image and cultural identity.
When conflictive viewpoints are discursively strengthened, they develop into a ‘conflict discourse’ with a specific discursive structure which perpetuates conflict, like the discursive securitisation of an issue for varying audiences. When they are weakened, however, societal discourse can potentially change so that agreement becomes possible again, thus achieving discursive conflict transformation. This article analyses the Israeli and the Palestinian water discourse. On both sides, the dominant discourse structures underscore the conflictive issues regarding the distribution of water between Israelis and Palestinians, thus making communication, let alone negotiation, downright impossible. While Palestinians regard the natural water resources as sufficient in principle and the existing scarcity as entirely politically induced, Israelis perceive the natural water resources as absolutely scarce while receiving major de-securitisation impulses from the possibility of desalination. In the respective (minor) counter-discourses, however, possible starting points for dialogue and conflict resolution are visible.