National parks and nature reserves of Israel
The national parks of Israel are declared historic sites or nature reserves, which are mostly operated and maintained by the National Nature and Parks Authority. As of 2005, Israel maintains more than 150 nature reserves that protect 2,500 species of indigenous wild plants, 20 species of fish, 400 species of birds and 70 species of mammals.
Some parks are located at archaeological sites such as Tel Megiddo, Beit She'an, Ashkelon and Kursi. Others, such as the Alexander stream, Mount Carmel National Park or Hurshat Tal focus on nature and the preservation of local flora and fauna. Several parks and nature reserves have camping options, such as tent grounds and bungalows, open to small groups and individual campers. Some of them are located in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights and the West Bank.
During the 19th century, the region was sparsely populated, with a population of 275-475 thousand. Waves of immigration expanded local population needs. Forests were cut down to supply coal for heating, industry and the Turkish railway. The German Templars brought with them shotguns, quickly adopted by local peasants. The First World War was characterized by massive acquisition of firearms. By the early 20th century, hunting threatened the extinction of crocodiles, ostriches, deer, fallow deer, Syrian Brown Bears, onagers and cheetahs.
As a result, the Mandatory government passed laws aimed at saving the local flora and fauna. In 1924 a Hunting Act was published and in 1926 a Forest Ordinance were published. Many sites, such as the forests of Mount Carmel and Mount Meron, were declared forest reserves; certain trees were declared protected.
In 1953 the Knesset passed the Wildlife Protection Law (חוק הגנת חיות-הבר) and the Minister of Agriculture was appointed for its implementation. In 1955, the department for the improvement of the country's landscape (המחלקה לשיפור נוף הארץ) was established in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, which was assigned the establishment of tourist infrastructure. The department established a number of well-known national parks, such as Gan HaShlosha, Caesarea, Shivta and Avdat. Following the drying of the Lake Hula and the public pressure, the Hula Reserve was established, which was the first declared nature reserve in Israel (in 1964). In 1963 the Knesset approved the "National parks and nature reserves act" (חוק הגנים הלאומיים ושמורות הטבע) (the legislation process of the law began already in 1956). As a result, two authorities were established: the National Parks Authority and the Nature Reserves Authority. In 1998 the two authorities were merged into one body - Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
Parks and reserves
National parks of Israel
Nature reserves of Israel
1Located in the Israeli-occupied territories.
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