JNF and USFS A Partnership That Works to Protect Forests
By Sarina Roffé, JNF Director of Communications
There are few partnerships between a governmental and non-governmental organization that are as good a match as the unique 15-year relationship between the U.S. Forest Service and Jewish National Fund.
Both agencies are committed to forestry and watershed management and their mission statements match: JNF is "caretaker of the land of Israel on behalf of its owners Jewish people everywhere," while the Forest Service's mission is "caring for the land and serving the people."
As the sole forestry agent in Israel, JNF planted 220 million trees in Israel during the 20th Century, making Israel the only country on earth to end the century with more trees than when it began. After devoting a century to building forests and making the deserts of Israel bloom, JNF is working to protect the forests from 21st Century challenges such as fire, drought and erosion.
The Forest Service has supported JNF programs for years. Each year, for example, foresters work closely with the Phoenix community on its January Tu B'Shevat program - "A Day in the Forest." The event is attended by thousands of people annually.
Since 1990, JNF and the Forest Service have worked under a memorandum of understanding that outlines joint work mitigating the effects of insects, fire and soil erosion, applying agro-forestry techniques and implementing forest resource management in Israel and the U.S. This sharing of information has resulted in technical assistance, improved training and forestry education programs for field workers, and the application of better land and forest, fire, watershed, and timber management techniques on behalf of both agencies.
The U.S. Forest Service plays a key role in research projects developed by the International Arid Lands Consortium, whose members include JNF, eight American universities, Egypt and Jordan.
In the area of watershed management and monitoring, JNF and the Forest Service are building on the past bilateral actions to build joint watershed assessment and monitoring activities with other countries in the eastern Mediterranean.
In another example of the working partnership, Forest Management Units in both Israel and the United States are paired to exchange information that enhances a mutual understanding of arid land forest and grassland management. JNF and the Forest Service jointly issue recommendations on fire prevention and management, ways to protect the forests and its open spaces, as well as river rehabilitation and urban forestry.