Israel’s Yatir Forest in Danger of Disappearing
i24 News – Yatir Forest, Israel’s largest human-planted forest and the world’s largest planted forest in a sub-desert area, is now in danger of disappearing.
Home to the northern end of the Negev desert in southern Israel, the Allepo pines of the Yatir forest have grown there since the Jewish National Fund first planted them over 60 years ago, and have since survived in the hostile and dry desert environment.
“It’s a miracle to see these trees in these hard conditions,” David Yalin, a researcher in the Yatir Forest Research Station, told i24NEWS.
“We have to understand that they will also reach a limit of the amount of adaptations.”
Scientists like Yalin are working to find out how a forest can survive under such harsh conditions as in the Yatir, where water is extremely scarce during the summer months.
However, the climate crisis poses a significant threat to the habitat, with rising temperatures and more frequent droughts.
Studies suggest that the effects of global warming could mean 20 percent less rainfall in the region and even higher temperatures.
The forest’s characteristics also don’t help its cause, as researchers suggest that the trees are actually contributing to the high temperatures of the area.
Yalin explained to i24NEWS that the desert surrounding the Yatir Forest has a very strong albedo, “meaning a lot of energy that comes out also goes back into the surface.”
He noted that the forest has the effect of “keeping heat inside of it.”
Still, people continue to plant trees there for “different purposes,” Professor Dan Yakir of the Weizmann Institue of Science in central Israel told i24NEWS.
“This forest was planted to green the environment, to lure inhabitants and people to move to the south of Israel.”