Glimpses of Israel - Reafforestation

by Joseph Hunting

Without doubt one of the greatest reafforestation programmes ever carried out is that which is being undertaken in Israel. Already some two hundred million trees have been planted and the end is not yet in sight.

The transformation of a once-barren landscape is beautiful to behold. And in areas that were disease-ridden swamps eucalypts were planted with marked success. Visitors from Australia feel a touch of nostalgia as they drive through splendid stands of these stately trees imported from their homeland.

The Bible has played a role in this success story. Acting on information concerning trees that were indigenous in certain areas in Bible times Israelis have planted these same types and their modern counterparts have again flourished in the same area.

In desert areas the dainty tamarisk trees hold back shifting desert sands and beautify the once-barren sand hills. Oaks that once graced the hills of Samaria again flourish there.

In some areas of Galilee erosion on the hills was so severe that soil had to be brought to enable the seedlings to take root. Today, as far as the eye can see, these same hills are covered with magnificent forests.

Perhaps this is the beautiful prelude to the words of Isaiah: "... the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree ..." (55:12-13).