Israeli Blazes Damage Almost as Much Land as 2010 Carmel Fire

Last week’s fires were about 80 percent as bad with a similar problem: Pine forests might now expand at the expense of natural woodland

Israel’s five days of fires have burned more than 20,000 dunams (5,000 acres) of forest, brushland and other open space, a similar scope as the record 2010 Carmel fire, the Jewish National Fund and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority said Saturday.
In the 2010 fire that racked Haifa’s forest, about 25,000 dunams were damaged. This year more than half the damage was done to forests.
Hardest hit last week were the Judean Hills between Route 1 and the separation barrier to the north. Also, homes were destroyed around the country, notably in Haifa and Zichron Yaakov 35 kilometers (22 miles) south along the coast.
In the past three days in the Judean Hills, the greatest damage was done in an area bounded by Ma’aleh Hahamisha in the Jerusalem corridor to the east, Mevo Horon to the north and Sha’ar Hagai to the west. Badly hit was the communal settlement of Nataf.
“Important areas of natural woodlands along streams and in brushlands that are the largest and most important in the Judean Hills were burned,” said Uri Naveh, the head of the parks authority’s central district.
According to Gidi Bashan, the Jewish National Fund’s community and forest coordinator for the Jerusalem area, “In the area of the ridges north of Sha’ar Hagai, forests of all kinds were damaged including pine forests and natural woodlands. This includes an area that burned in 1995 in the major fire at Sha’ar Hagai and that had been restored.”

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