10/06/2010 06:29

Memorandum of understanding with Canadian province of Manitoba to remain in effect for 5 years; share common interest in preserving habitats.

The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) and the Canadian Province of Manitoba will sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) next Wednesday to further cooperation regarding birding, tourism and the environment.

Manitoba, which is 30 times larger than Israel, has been eager to forge research partnerships with Israeli organizations, especially on water and environmental issues.
Canada’s continuous commitment

Israel and Manitoba share a common interest in preserving habitats – especially concerning bird migrations. Both countries are on major migratory routes, according to the MOU. In addition to fostering cooperation on bird migration, the MOU will encourage partnerships on environmental conservation and eco-tourism.

The initial foci of cooperation will be “partnership development – based on the sharing and development of knowledge, research, study, and education, with a particular emphasis on youth,” according to a copy of the agreement provided to The Jerusalem Post.

“Areas of specific focus will be nature conservation and study, environmental education, biodiversity and sustainable development,” it goes on. “The initial focus will be on ornithology, with particular emphasis on partnerships between the birding needs, agricultural (preservation of crops) and aeronautical safety needs (flight paths).”

It also mentions “the need to recognize and expand eco-tourism in each jurisdiction, [and] to mutually support and promote eco-tourism in each jurisdiction beginning with ornithological tours, nature guiding, [and] orienteering (with the aim to expand the focus in future years).”

In a statement ahead of the signing, SPNI Director-General Avinoam Ben-Yitzhak said, “We are pleased to promote this important initiative.

SPNI, as a public organization, has a special ability to bring people together from around the world to preserve nature and the environment, which is of global interest for all earth inhabitants.”

Dr. Yossi Leshem – founder and director of the International Center for the Study of Bird Migration, which is part of SPNI and Tel Aviv University – added, “This cooperation is a fine example of actualizing the concept that SPNI has long promoted – migrating birds know no boundaries.

This agreement is proof that topics such as birds, environment and nature can bring government, people and diverse interests together. On the issues of preserving wildlife, there really are no boundaries.”

The eventual goal is to expand the agreement to include joint projects with Jordan and the Palestinians, SPNI said.

The signing ceremony will take place next Wednesday at SPNI’s Jerusalem Bird Observatory, adjacent to the Knesset.

Dignitaries and officials expected to attend include visiting Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov, Manitoba Minister of Water Stewardship Christian Melnick; its Minister of Innovation, Energy and Mines Dave Chomiak; and Canadian Ambassador to Israel Paul Hunt; as well as Ben-Yitzhak, Leshem, and Dan Alon, director of the Israel Ornithological Center (part of SPNI’s birding division).

Once signed, the MOU will remain in effect for five years, with an option of renewing it for another five. Manitoba has also signed water research agreements with JNF/KKL.

Each has hosted delegations of experts and held a conference in their respective countries.