The Israel pavilion at EXPO 2015, which includes a special KKL-JNF compound, opened on May 1st, and so far, it has been visited by some 200,000 people. KKL-JNF has used the area allocated to it as a venue for meetings and fascinating lectures on climate change, agriculture and afforestation – all of which are of interest both to professionals and to the general public. Visitors to the compound have been enjoying the interactive totem-pole screens, which display information about the various areas in which KKL-JNF is active, and invite them to help plant the Expo Forest or sign up for the Win a Trip to Israel Competition.
Schoolchildren, students, professional farmers and environmentalists were among the 200,000 people who flocked from all over Italy to EXPO 2015 in Milan and included the Israel pavilion in their itinerary.
Tours of the Israel pavilion were provided for visiting groups, with KKL-JNF Emissary to Milan Shariel Gun and Denise Tanzer of the organization’s Milan office acting as guides. Visitors to the KKL-JNF compound have been enjoying the magnificent presentations on the interactive totem pole, which displays information on the organization’s activities in many environmental fields, including farming, water
, food security and combating desertification.
Karine Bolton, head of KKL-JNF’s Conferences and International Relations Department, said that since the exhibition had opened KKL-JNF had hosted a number of very successful events that were attended by hundreds of people. The KKL-JNF compound, she added, had been the subject of numerous newspaper articles by both Italian and foreign journalists, and thousands of Expo participants had signed up for the Win a Trip to Israel Competition and for the establishment of an Expo Forest in Israel.
KKL-JNF events in May: Trees in the Bible and climate change
The Coffee-Klatsch series on “Trees in the Bible
,” which was open to the general public, was held daily from May 18-20. The principal speaker was Professor Alon Tal of the Negev’s Ben Gurion University, who is also a member of the KKL-JNF Board of Directors. President of KKL-JNF Milan Silvio Tedeschi opened the proceedings, and there were two other speakers on the panel: Alfonso Arbib, Chief Rabbi of Milan’s Jewish community and Dr. Vincenzo Mazziotta, who is the Vatican representative responsible for forestry.
The event was chaired in a highly professional manner by journalist Armando Torno of the Corriere della Sera daily in Milan. KKL Milan President Silvio Tedeschi began by welcoming all those present. He talked of KKL-JNF’s contribution, both in Israel and around the world, to forestry, water, settlement, tourism, research & development and a whole range of other issues; he also spoke of KKL-JNF’s role at the Israel pavilion at Expo and wished the organization every success with the series of events it has planned.
Professor Alon Tal gave a brief review of the problem of the earth’s dwindling areas of forest, which, he said, raises environmental concerns. Israel, he pointed out, is one of the very few countries in the world that has increased its forested areas over the past hundred years, thanks to KKL-JNF’s strenuous efforts. He cited examples from the Torah and other Jewish sources that mention trees in the Land of Israel – notably the tamarisk planted by Abraham and Honi Hameagel's (the Circle-Maker) carob tree.
Dr. Mazziotta thanked KKL-JNF for its contribution to forest development and added that the organization is continuing its operations in the most practical manner – by planting. He quoted verses from both the Old and the New Testament in which trees are mentioned, and spoke of the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden.
Rabbi Arbib likewise cited trees mentioned in the Torah, including the kikayon (translated in the King James Bible as “gourd”, but used in modern Hebrew to refer to the castor oil plant) in the story of the Prophet Jonah, and the trees of the Garden of Eden. The lectures were followed by a discussion between all those taking part; the audience also enjoyed light refreshments on the balcony of the Israeli pavilion.
The Professional forestry seminar on “Climate Change – Threats and Adaptation,” on May 20th: Participants included KKL-JNF Chief Forester Dr. David Brand, KKL-JNF's Director of Forestry and Professional Development Aviv Eizenband, Professor Alon Tal of Ben Gurion University and four senior lecturers from the Italian forestry service. Professors and students from Milan University’s faculty of agriculture also took part.
The event opened with a short film about KKL-JNF’s activities. This was followed by opening remarks by Lorenza Colletti, Senior Forestry Officer of the Italian State Forest Corps, who congratulated KKL-JNF on its initiative and willingness to collaborate, and gave a presentation on forestry in Italy.
KKL-JNF’s David Brand and Aviv Eizenband gave a very interesting presentation on the fight against desertification
, cultivating trees in a waterless environment, the use of technology in arid zones, and coping with climate change.
This was followed by talks by three Italian lecturers from the Central Institute for Forestry Research and Tuscia-Viterbo University, who spoke about climate change, forestry in waterless areas (such as Sicily) and forest cultivation in the Mediterranean Basin.
Professor Alon Tal delivered the closing remarks, which were followed by a discussion on cooperation in the future. This discussion was the outcome of the revelation, in the course of this session, that the Italian and Israeli forestry services have a great deal in common.
Events in June: Desert agriculture and combating desertification
On June 14-16
there will be a Coffee-Klatsch series on “Ancient Farming Methods in Israel’s Deserts.” Lectures will take place from 11:00 until 13:00 on three successive days and will be open to the general public. Light refreshments will be served. Speaker:
Yitzhak Moshe, Deputy Director of KKL-JNF's Southern Region
On June 17
– the UN World Day to Combat Desertification – there will be a VIP luncheon under the auspices of KKL-JNF and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The event will take place at a venue outside the Expo compound, from 12:30 until 14:00; participation will be by invitation only.
On June 18
a seminar on soil preservation will be held in conjunction with the UNCCD (UN Convention to Combat Desertification). This event, from 9:00 until 14:00, is designed primarily for professionals in the field. Topics will include soil conservation, the prevention of soil erosion and techniques for combating desertification. Speakers:
Professor Uriel Safriel of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and Yitzhak Moshe, Deputy Director of KKL-JNF's Southern Region.
On June 25
, Israel’s National Day event will take place, and will be organized by the Israeli Foreign Ministry. It will be held from 10:30 until 16:00 and will include a reception, an official ceremony, lunch and a tour of other Expo pavilions.