Israel Losing Open Land to Development at Alarming Rate

A general view shows the town of Majdal Shams near the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights March 25, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

i24 NewsSince 2019, Israel lost some 17,500 acres of forested and undeveloped land, according to a government report stating that the country is a world leader for the rate at which it is losing open land to development.

The latest State of Nature Report showed that a growing number of ecosystems in Israel are being fragmented and disconnected from each other due to development, Haaretz reported.

It also found a 30 percent increase in the strength of light pollution in open areas over the last decade, disrupting the activity cycles of various wildlife.

Because of the Jewish state’s small size, it feels the side effects of development directly, the report said, adding that ecosystems deteriorating significantly.

The report was prepared by HaMaarag, Israel’s National Nature Assessment Program. Although the report is published tri-annually, this was the first one that addressed climate change, according to Haaretz.

By examining land development from 2017-2020, HaMaarag found that almost 46 square miles of open land were converted into built-up areas or used for other types of infrastructure.

A small portion was used for agricultural use, meaning that land can be restored to its natural state, the report noted.

When compared to other OPEC+ countries, the loss of open land in Israel is particularly rapid relative to the amount of available open land.

Geographically and climatically, Israel’s northern Golan Heights is the largest contiguous area of natural open space in the country. But the trend will likely reach that region in the face of plans to construct two new settlements and expand developed infrastructure there.