JERUSALEM (Apr. 16)
The Jewish National Fund, marking the 50th anniversary of its afforestation program, disclosed today that it will soon be planting its one-hundred-millionth tree in Israel. Yaacov Tsur, JNF chairman, said at a press conference that 90 million trees have been planted on some 100,000 acres of land since the State of Israel was established in 1948. Only 5,000 acres were planted during the period of the British Mandate in Palestine from 1921 to 1948.
Mr. Tsur said that planting sites are mainly in mountainous, desert or rocky areas where the soil is unsuitable for agriculture. Trees arrest soil erosion, drain marshes and also act as a security belt in border regions, Mr. Tsur noted. He said three million trees are now being planted beyond the former armistice lines with Egypt and Jordan which existed until the June, 1967 war. At the request of the military governors, the JNF employs some 1,000 Arabs from the occupied territories in afforestation work, according to Mr. Tsur.
The JNF official said the tree-planting program has provided Israelis with 60 new picnic sites and camping grounds complete with running water and cooking facilities installed by the JNF. In addition, the Israeli land reclamation agency has sent its experts abroad in connection with various projects of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Mr. Tsur said that Israeli experts in the past three years have managed to plant trees all over the rocky island of Malta, something the British, Italians and the Maltese failed to do after numerous experiments.