International Arid Lands Consortium

IALC Founding Member Institution

The Jewish National Fund

New York City, New York

The Jewish National Fund was established in 1901 to acquire land for the Jewish people's resettlement in the land of Israel. Since Israel's declaration of statehood in 1948, it has focused on land reclamation, afforestation, site preparation for agriculture and settlement, construction of roads, reservoirs and parks, soil conservation, and halting desertification.


Achievements include planting of more than 200 million trees through the JNF/KKL Tree Planting Program; reclamation of more than 300,000 acres for agriculture, housing, and industry; preparation of land for 1,100 rural villages; building of more than 4,000 miles of roads through mountainous and desert terrain, and creation of 450 regional parks, including picnic and active recreation areas throughout Israel.


Arid Lands Expertise at The Jewish National Fund

Israel is a small semiarid country and more than 60 percent of its land area is desert, which houses only 7 percent of its population. JNF's desert research began in the early 1940s, and has included tree planting, saline-tolerant crop exploration, improved water harvesting, and drip irrigation. In the mid-1960s, it began planting forests in areas averaging only 10 inches of rainfall annually at Yatir and Lahav in the Negev Desert. These forests now cover some 12,500 acres of formerly barren terrain.


Since 1986, JNF has successfully experimented with "savannization" to develop an ecologically sound system for the management of desert ecosystems, which has resulted in greater biological diversity and productivity.


To maximize meager Negev water resources, JNF has built dams and reservoirs to capture floodwaters for irrigation and replenishment of underground aquifers.


In conjunction with Ben-Gurion University's Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research and Israel's Foreign Ministry, JNF has established a Center for Desert Research and Restoration Ecology. The Center's mission is to:

  • Study desertification
  • Initiate sustainable development to halt desertification
  • Promote restoration ecology to upgrade the economic, social, and ecological value of damaged ecosystems
  • Develop an interdisciplinary approach for scientific management of open spaces affected by human intervention
  • Provide a framework for international cooperation in arid zone management
  • Design academic study and training programs
  • Yield a conceptual framework for the co-existence of development and conservation

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 Last updated: 14 July 2009
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Last Updated: May 2, 2013
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