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Mutual Existence of Nature, Agriculture and Man

Finding a balance between nature and the environment for an active agricultural landscape
What is mutual coexistence of nature, agriculture and man?

In the landscape of the Partnership, natural areas (nature reserves, planted forests, open landscapes) exist beside agricultural areas that exist beside human settlements. Although each one of these land uses is managed as an independent unit, they influence each other. It is clear to us, at The Partnership for Regional Sustainability, that the uniqueness and character of the region is inextricably linked to the possibility of supporting thriving agriculture, nature and human settlement. Everything can be managed and sustained, with understanding and mutual consideration, and without favoring one aspect at the expense of the other. Our challenge: to find ways to allow such mutual existence in this landscape, with trust, mutual respect and continuous dialog.

A strategy for mutual existence of nature, agriculture and man:

The Partnership for Regional Sustainability is developing a common strategy for mutual existence of nature, agriculture and man with meaningful dialog among the many stakeholders who are members of the partnership. The strategy deals with three central questions: what is the current situation in this field (what are currently the main problems and opportunities), what is the desirable future situation (what are we aiming for) and what are the steps that must be taken in order to actually realize the defined vision. In order to develop a strategy, we set up a task group whose members represent the range of stakeholders. The group met for a series of workshops in which the main issues were defined, understandings were formulated with respect to the main aspects of the current situation in the region, and a desired future situation was developed. At a later stage of the process the group determined aims for advancement, defined directions of action and suggested a range of projects for implementation.

What are the central issues that the strategy deals with?

Open landscapes                                Animal damage to agriculture          Trust, mutual respect and dialog

Grazing                                  Agricultural waste                                                Spraying

Direct marketing platform  Waste in open landscapes                                Human activities in agricultural areas

What’s happening in our region:

Mutual coexistence of three fields that are complex in and of themselves is naturally going to be complicated and challenging. As part of the strategic process we came together to study the current situation in the region with respect to the issues that were defined as being more important:

Relationships, trust and mutual respect – this was determined to be the most important issue by the stakeholder forum. Currently, suspicion and a lack of trust exist between farmers, residents who are not farmers, and representatives of environmental organizations, with respect to various issues. There is no forum for meeting and dialog, sharing important information and getting to know one another. On the other hand, it is very important for everyone to continue supporting agriculture, to preserve nature and landscapes and to maintain the quality of life of the region’s residents.

Spraying – there has been a decrease in the amount of spraying in the region and a gradual conversion to integrated pest management. The farmers generally spray according to the recommendations of the guide from the Ministry of Agriculture who suggests which is the most appropriate and environmentally-friendly pest control agent. Most of the chemicals that are sprayed in the region of the Partnership have a relatively low risk level (3-4). Nevertheless, residents are wary and afraid of the sprayed chemicals, due to a lack of knowledge and a lack of coordination between farmers and residents.

Human activities in agricultural areas – there have been various incidents of theft and damage in agricultural areas. Human activities in agricultural areas can be divided into 3: people who enter the agricultural area while hiking and do not necessarily cause damage, significant incidents of theft (commercial or nationalistic) and hikers who steal fruit or damage infrastructures.

Animal damage to agriculture – animal damage to agriculture is significant, but there has been no quantitative, spatial mapping of the phenomenon. At the Hof HaCarmel Regional Council, a ranger from the Nature and Parks Authority is working hard to map the phenomenon and provide localized solutions where necessary. In the other member councils of the Partnership there is no local authority that provides a solution to this problem.

Agricultural waste – most of the agricultural waste comprises packaging from pest control agents, plastic products, netting and sheeting, fruit waste, animal carcasses and tree clippings. There is a lack of convenient, accessible facilities for disposing of packaging from pest control agents. The Ministry of Agriculture is reluctant to authorize burning of tree clippings and organic waste for environmental reasons. A wood chipper is the most environmentally-friendly solution for organic waste, but it is expensive to use and the high costs must be carried by the farmer.

Waste in open landscapes – open landscapes contain abundant waste including: building waste, picnic waste and other waste, however the locations of waste disposal have not been mapped systematically. This is a national problem; it is very difficult to enforce proper disposal of waste. In addition, builders, renovators and residents from the region are completely unaware of the solutions available in the region for disposal of building waste.

Open landscapes – all of the open landscapes in The Partnership for Regional Sustainability have been mapped. There is a need for the residents to maintain specific open spaces that are located near residential areas. The approach behind managing and maintaining such spaces is regional cooperation between the nearby community, the local municipality and other relevant bodies such as the Nature and Parks Authority, KKL-JNF, the Drainage Authority and others.

Grazing – rangelands in The Partnership for Regional Sustainability have been mapped. Likewise, there is good cooperation between the herd owners, the Nature and Parks Authority, KKL-JNF, the Rangeland Authority and other bodies. In selected locations (intersections of main trails) there are organized passages into the rangelands for pedestrians and cyclists.

Direct marketing platform – currently there is no direct marketing platform in the region, only direct sales on the farmers’ properties. 60-70% of the total agricultural produce is sold to supermarket chains and wholesalers and only 5-10% of the total produce is sold directly to the consumer. Most farms are not set up for direct sales, but rather for wholesale marketing to the supermarket chains. Direct marketing is considered as strengthening the feeling of community, as well as contributing to relationships between farmers and residents and promoting sustainable, local economy.

What can be done to help?

  • Run resident-farmer discussion groups to discuss minimizing problems and dealing with them on a regular basis
  • Rehabilitation of the Taninim River and its banks and management of its operation by stakeholders
  • Ecological rehabilitation of agricultural field margins to turn them into a source of pollinators and biological control agents
Fruit fly pilot project
פרי בלי זבוב

This project involves the community in an agricultural project, aiming for clean air and agricultural produce without chemicals, for the benefit of all.

As part of a regional effort, a project was developed in recent years to control the Mediterranean fruit fly (that damages citrus and stone fruit) using traps (for environmentally-friendly pest control that does not disperse toxic chemicals). The problem is that in order for this effort to be effective the traps must be distributed continuously across large areas.

In 2015 a pilot project was conducted in a limited area in Givat Ada and Binyamina, in which 1,100 devices were distributed in yards and public gardens with fruit trees, in collaboration with the agricultural committee. The project is directed by Ofer Mandelson, a researcher who has worked on environmentally-friendly control and sustainable agriculture in our region for many years.

Monitoring of the fly population in 2015 showed a decrease in the fly population in areas where the devices were distributed. The data are available for residents on the website.

In 2016 it was decided to continue and even expand the project while strengthening cooperation with the community, mainly by involving the education system and youth movements in activities and by raising awareness about the issue.

Related projects
  • Edible forest: ecological-community development of the strip of land next to Binyamina’s railroad to turn it into a productive, busy area that will become a meeting place for the local community.
  • The Gibor River channel: development of the local river channel for the benefit of the community’s residents and to connect them to nature.
  • Wildflowers: residents of Binyamina – Givat Ada are adopting segments of roads near their homes, in which they are sowing wildflowers through the approach of sustainable gardening. The project follows the approach of sustainable gardening without any irrigation besides what is provided by nature, without over-maintenance, which is based on the existing diversity of the Israeli vegetation.
  • Life for the Taninim River: a group of activists that wants to promote the rehabilitation of the river for the benefit of the residents. Within this framework there are experiential activity days and establishment of seating next to the river bank, in partnership with the Carmel Drainage Authority.
  • Heritage trees: mapping of ancient trees using an online form, adding historical data from the archive.
  • Themed trail: development of archeological sites along the length of the Taninim River and creation of a themed trail to connect between them.
Related projects

מהי חקלאות מקיימת?

במרחב השותפות מתקיימים שטחים טבעיים (שמורות טבע, יערות נטועים, שטחים פתוחים) לצד שטחים חקלאיים שמתקיימים לצד יישובים. למרות שכל אחד משימושי קרקע אלו מתנהל כיחידה עצמאית, הם משפיעים זה על זה. ברור לנו בשותפות, שאפשר לנהל ולקיים את כל שימושי הקרקע תוך הבנה והתחשבות הדדית ומבלי שאחד יבוא על חשבון האחר. האתגר שלנו: למצוא את הדרכים לאפשר קיום משותף שכזה במרחב הזה, שמאופיין ע"י שטחי טבע, חקלאות ואדם הנושקים זה לזה ומעניקים לא את הצביון הייחודי שלו. 

מה אפשר לעשות:

·       קיום קבוצת הידברות תושבים-חקלאים שתעסוק במזעור בעיות והתמודדות איתן באופן קבוע;

·       שיקום נחל תנינים וגדותיו וניהול ממשק התפעול שלו על ידי בעלי העניין.

·       שיקום אקולוגי של שולי שדות חקלאיים והפיכתם למקור להאבקה ולהדברה טבעית;