Environmental Studies department student research leads to the establishment of a Community Nature Park
The community nature park at "HaKfar HaYarok" is a resonant success story, started by a PSES student initiative. Liav Shalem, a landscape architect and student at the time, was seeking to recreate natural habitats on land used for agriculture for many years, as part of his research thesis.
The coastal plain of Israel was originally meadow wetlands. During the last century the area was gradually occupied by people and the majority of the land became cultivated farmland or urban areas, with very little natural habitats remaining. The community nature park aims to demonstrate that it is possible to restore the indigenous flora and fauna which have almost disappeared due to human activity. The park reflects a new approach that will enable city planners to incorporate local biodiversity in the urban landscape, for the benefit of the community and the environment.
Presently, as a result of the rehabilitation efforts, dozens of species of flora and fauna, which had almost vanished from the coastal plain's natural landscape, are flourishing in the park. Many visitors – from neighboring residents to city planners, ecologists and education professionals – come to learn from this unique model and implement it on other sites throughout the country.
Liav Shalem was supervised in his research by zoologist (and head of the PSES' Master's programs) Prof. Avital Gazit and botanist Dr. Yuval Sapir. The three joined together under the interdisciplinary umbrella of PSES, and the initiative was supported by the Smaller-Winnikow Fund, JNF, the 'Nekudat Hen' program, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and Hakfar Ha'Yarok School – which allocated 12 acres to the project on the western edge of its fields, near the Glilot intersection.