Sustainable parks preserve natural resources while promoting quality of life for the people around it. One extraordinary example is Hula Lake Park, a flagship project of KKL-JNF in the north of Israel, in the Galilee panhandle.
In this ambitious restoration project, KKL-JNF prevented an ecological disaster by transforming 75 km² into a paradise of vegetation and wildlife. In the 1950’s, Hula Lake and the surrounding swamps of the Hula Valley were drained, in order to prevent malaria and promote agriculture in the region. The result was 60,000 dunams of agricultural land for crops, orchards, and fishponds. However, this also created an ecological problem as fertilizers and pesticides flowed unchecked into Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee), threatening the quality of its water.
The area was reflooded in the 1990s to help restore the wetland ecosystem that once flourished here. More recently, a more balanced approach was implemented, and KKL-JNF created a 250-acre (100-hectare) lake in the Hula Valley that filters the water flowing into Lake Kinneret through biological processes. Thus, the rich ecosystem that once flourished in the region was recreated.
Another feature makes this park unique: Hula Valley lies on a major bird migration flyway; approximately 500 million birds a year pass through it as they fly from Central and Eastern Europe and Western Asia to the warmer climes of Africa and back again. Our crane-feeding program allows migrating cranes to refuel for their journey ahead without helping themselves to local crops – a perfect example of a sustainable system, which in this case helps wildlife while protecting local farmers’ livelihoods.
In this prime birdwatching site that is also home to various terrestrial wildlife species, KKL-JNF established the Agamon Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (AWRC). The Center provides first-response, lifesaving treatment, care and rehabilitation to more than 350 animals a year. Facilities include a veterinary clinic, three acclimatization compounds, and a nursery for baby birds. The center is the only wildlife clinic in northern Israel, and the only wildlife rehabilitation center in the entire country.
Hula Lake Park today is an internationally acclaimed birdwatching site and a prime example of 21st century eco-tourism. Around 420 thousand people visit here each year; to watch and photograph the birds, observe local wildlife—water buffalo, swamp cats, wild boar and more; enjoy the recreational facilities, and tour the site on foot, bicycle or rented golf-buggy.
Help protect a unique wetland ecosystem today; ensure biodiversity for tomorrow