Israel Arbor Day Concentrates More on Green Development Projects

Is Hiriya Israel’s national eco-symbol? It looks more that way

Although the just completed Tu Bishvat celebration in Israel included many tree planting ceremonies, especially on the site of recent disastrous Carmel Forest wildfires, Israel’s annual Arbor Day for 2011 had more emphasis on “greening” former landfills, such as the Hiriya garbage mountain, east of  Tel Aviv. The former “mega dump”  is now being turned in one of the largest ecological parks in the world,  according to an article in the weekend edition of Haaretz.

The eco-park will compose an area of 8,000 dunam (2,000 acres), and besides the amphitheater will include an artificial lake and a special observation site and picnic areas. The site, which is now being turned into a recycling site, as well as a park, became a symbol for this Arbor Day celebration. The events lasted three days this year and is being considered as much of an environmental consciousness event as one commemorating the annual “birthday of trees”.

The environmental importance of making people more ecology-conscious this year was emphasized at Hiriya with a special tree planting ceremony held on the site itself and attended by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and included Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan  (who recently was noted as being in favor of  the Palestinian Authority creating a “green city” on the West Bank).

Also in attendance were Jewish National Fund Chairman Efi Stenzler, and several mayors.  Besides the special ceremonies at Hiriya, there are others held by environmental groups at locations in the largely Arab inhabited Wadi Ara area to emphasize coexistence efforts between Arabs and Jews.

During the Hiriya tree planting ceremony Environmental Minister Erdan said that his ministry plans to close “all of Israel’s landfills, except for one, Efeh (located near the Dead Sea) over the course of the next decade”. In its heyday the Hiriya landfill took in some 12,000 tons of domestic waste and 5,000 tons of building waste per day. This is about a quarter of the country’s entire amount of waste disposed daily.

Looking for the “million dollar mattress”

Turning Hiriya into an eco-park is a great idea and we at Green Prophet are highly in favor of this project. The problem of solid waste disposal is one that will not go way soon, however.

Landfills will be unfortunately still needed to dispose of items like the “million dollar mattress” that a woman  threw out and was alleged to have contained a million dollars stashed inside it.

This incident alone only strengthens the ecological importance of recycling; and the Hiriya eco-park will be an everlasting symbol of our need to recycle even more.

Read more on Hiriya Garbage Dump and other environmental issues in Israel:

50,000 Seat Amphitheater Planned for Hiriya Garbage Mountain

Trees That Don’t Stand a Chance Against Climate Change

The Carmel Wildfire; Taking Stock of How it Happened

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