Slated development would shrink width of ecological corridor, essential for passage of gazelles and roe deer, to just 50 meters

Zafrir Rinat Feb 10, 2019

The Israel Lands Authority is promoting construction in an area on the slopes of Mount Carmel that is an essential for wildlife, including gazelles and roe deer. According to the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI). The project, which is slated for the town of Zichron Ya’akov, goes against an agreement reached with authorities to preserve the key ecological corridor.

The SPNI, Environmental Protection Ministry, and adjacent Ramat Hanadiv Park have all demanded that the Israel Lands Authority stop its plan for construction in the area, which would shrink the width of the ecoloical corridor to just 50 meters.

The area slated for development, called Wine Park, is in the eastern part of Zichron Ya’akov, and is being marketed for development of commercial and tourist premises. The local councils in the area were reportedly in favor of the ecological corridor and were supposed to receive money from the Israel Lands Authority’s open space fund to help maintain it. This funding has now been rescinded.

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If construction goes ahead, the wildlife corridor will be reduced to a mere 50–100 meters, as opposed to the 400 meters corridor the Auhtority had previously agreed to preserve.

Ramat Hanadiv Park has large and important herds of gazelles and roe deer that have been documented by surveillance cameras to pass through the existing ecological corridor. The location of the corridor was determined by research done by a Dutch planning company.

The Israel Lands Authority responded that it considers open spaces very important and cited the existence of its fund for the planning of open spaces. “Contrary to the claims, at no point did the Authority commit to an ecological corridor 400 meters wide. The authority has met and will meet its obligations and will study the possible width of the corridor in keeping with the planning.”

The Zichron Ya’akov Local Council said in response that the Wine Park plan had been approved over 10 years ago. “The plan is for a residential neighborhood to be designed in typical Zichron Ya’akov style along with a tourist complex with galleries, wineries, and hotels.” The ecological corridor would be preserved and would be less than 400 meters wide, the council said, adding that “over time, it would be possible to consider minor changes to expand the corridor.”