It’s September already and officially the end of the summer (not that you would notice by the still-scorching Middle Eastern climate). As the temperature begins to cool down (slightly), the next couple of months offer the ideal time to hit one of the many hiking trails, forests, or natural springs in Israel.
But sometimes enjoying the Great Outdoors can leave it in a worse state than it was found, as I discovered at the weekend rafting on the River Dan with fellow Green Prophets James and Jeff. The tranquillity of drifting along a wide, clean river a few minutes from the Lebanese border was tempered by the plastic bags, bottles and other human debris that have accumulated along its lush, green shores.
To educate campers and day-trippers about their ecological footprint, the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics in Colorado developed a guide for ecologically-responsible outdoor recreation. Their seven Principles of Leave No Trace have recently been adapted for the Israeli landscape courtesy of Derech HaTeva, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel’s environmental education initiative:
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
4. Leave What You Find
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
6. Respect Wildlife
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors.
Israelis take note: Number 3 means take your rubbish home with you (preferably to recycle).
Derech HaTeva has been putting the theory into practise on their annual Israeli Trail Teen Adventure, which begins at the Tel Dan archaeological site not far from the wonderful river of the same name. The month-long hike takes young Israelis and North Americans over the mountains of the Galilee and the desert in the south of Israel, combining Jewish learning with environmental stewardship.
“It’s opening them up to the world, whether Israel, Judaism or their inner selves, and the outdoors is the best classroom to do that,” Yael Ukeles, director and founder of Derech Hateva, told Green Prophet. “The depth of learning and growth is worth years of learning in other settings.”
Photo: Yavniel Valley/Israeli National Trail, Michael Green.