Four years ago Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) schemed a plan to eradicate the blue-leafed wattle (acacia saligna), an invasive species native to Australia that threatened to overrun the native plant species in Nahal Sorek National Park.
Just a few years ago the blue-leafed wattle spread beyond the park’s boundaries to eight spots along the main route to Sorek. Each spot consisted of hundreds of trees.
According to America’s National Invasive Species Council, 42 percent of organisms on the Endangered Species List in the U.S. were pushed there by harmful interactions with invasive species. A study by INPA consultant and ecologist Jean-Marc Dufour-Dror revealed several dozen invasive plant species from abroad have taken root across the Israeli landscape.
Despite its relatively small size, Israel has remarkable biodiversity. Its four unique geographical zones host around 2,780 types of plants, some of which are native species that have thrived in Israel since Biblical times.
In Australia populations of the resilient blue-leafed wattle are naturally controlled through a predatory fungus. Since Israel lacks this fungus population control has proven more difficult.
Through a combination of chopping down the trees, injecting their trunks with pesticide and covering the surrounding area with plastic to prevent seeding from germinating, Israel has now almost completely eliminated the blue-leaf wattle.