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Conservation of Mediterranean wetlands: Israel’s two “Ramsar” sites, En Afeq and Hula Nature Reserves

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Wetlands are among the most important and endangered of Mediterranean landscapes. The wetlands of Israel have enhanced importance as resting stops on the seasonal route of birds migrating between Eurasia and Africa. For these reasons, two major wetland nature reserves, En Afeq and Hula, are internationally recognized Ramsar Convention sites. Rapidly dropping water levels and reduced water quality, urban and agricultural encroachment, and heavy tourism pressure all threaten these fragile systems. A joint effort of Dutch and Israeli conservationists and ecologists studied both sites in an effort to apply scenario modeling as a tool for conservation management, as used today in the Netherlands. Our conclusion was that the Israeli sites are far more unstable than comparable Dutch wetlands, making scenario modeling difficult and perhaps irrelevant. Conservation management can do little more in these sites than to maximize water quality and quantity.

Affiliations: 1: Science and Conservation Division, Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority ; 2: Northern District, Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority


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