Bird watching in the centre of Tel Aviv

November 9, 2016 by Ahuva Bar-Lev
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The dream of the Bird-watching Center in Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park’s Rosh Tzippor Forest is  becoming a reality thanks to JNF Australia and one of its major donors.


Image: Yoav Sapahi

This natural gem in the heart of the bustling metropolis of Tel Aviv is expected to attract a variety of birds and thousands of nature and bird lovers.

On November 6th, KKL-JNF held a ceremony to unveil the plaque at the park, in the presence of donor Marc Besen.

93-yr-old Marc Besen from Melbourne, Australia said: “When I was invited to take part in the establishment of Rosh Tzippor, I was very excited by the idea.”

He shared a meaningful memory of his meeting with Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, at Sde Boker in 1958, with those present:  “Ben Gurion spoke about his dream of settling the Negev, and I felt it was a wonderful thing to take part in his vision.  He also said that if many green areas are established here, then the birds will come.”

Architect Gideon Sarig greeted Besen and presented the bird-watching center plans to him.  The Rosh Tzippor Park, which spreads across 30 dunams (approx 7.5 acres), will include habitats that will attract birds of many different species.  The manmade lake that will be built will span 6 dunams (approx 1.5 acres), and the green wetlands will span, 4 dunams (approx 1 acre).There will also be a winter pond and water channels with fast currents.  The vegetation in the park will suit a wide variety of birds.

“This is a green corner in the heart of an urban area, in which everyone can connect with nature and with themselves,” says Hila Oren, CEO of the Tel Aviv Foundation.  She thanked the participants in the name of the Mayor of Tel Aviv and added:  “The establishment of the park is a milestone in our joint vision.”

The work on the park is advancing quickly, in order to open the park to visitors this coming spring.  The workers didn’t even stop their work during the ceremony.  In the background, tractors could be seen lifting piles of sand in order to build the area of the green wetlands at the edge of the park.  The workers laid the final beams to strengthen the structures around the lake.

Ze’ev Kedem, KKL-JNF Director of Resource Development, noted that change in Israel is achieved through local pioneers and their supporters around the world.  “KKL plays a central role in changing the face of the country, and this is an example of a project that will make a change.  Thanks to this project, the children of the region will benefit from a fascinating bird-watching center.”

Visitors to the center can watch the birds without disturbing them from the observation points built at the site.  Some of these points are designated for observation above sea level, and others allow for underwater observation.  Group education will be held in open classrooms located around the lake.

Unveiling the donors' plaques

Unveiling the donors’ plaques Photo: Yoav Devir

Dan Springer, CEO of JNF Australia, spoke about the Maccabiah disaster, an accident in which the temporary bridge over the polluted Yarkon River collapsed during the opening ceremony of the Maccabiah Games in 1997.  Four Australian athletes were killed and dozens were injured.

“Following the disaster, JNF Australia led the efforts to clean up the Yarkon.  This beautiful center is a milestone in the restoration of life to the Yarkon’s ecological system,” says Springer.

Taking part in the event was the JNF Australia management delegation, which toured Israel for two weeks in order to examine the various projects.

Helen Shardey, President of JNF Victoria said:  “The visit here is the culmination of our trip.  This project will create green lungs for Tel Aviv residents and will attract a variety of species of birds.”

he ceremony was hosted by Andy Michelson, KKL-JNF Chief of Protocol, who praised the collaboration between the various organizations for the purpose of promoting the project.  He added:  “There is no doubt that this park will have a significant effect.”

Hundreds of millions of migrating birds pass through Israel on their way from Europe to Africa.  “We are building a refueling station here for these wonderful creatures,” said Yaron Charka, KKL-JNF Chief Ornithologist.  “The site will host many visitors, including students and pupils who will come to experience the beauty of nature.  Our vision is for the park to become one of the country’s leading bird-watching sites.”

t the end of the event, Mark Besen, in a symbolic gesture, opened the water faucet to fill the spring.  “We will see you next year, when there will be water and birds here,” he promised with a smile.


One Response to “Bird watching in the centre of Tel Aviv”
  1. HILA SOLOMON says:

    Tonight, with the uncertainty and fear of Trumpism ……it’s a relief to read this wonderful piece, of a true and great project. Thank you JWire, JNF and the BEsens xx

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