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Pelican in Hula nature Reserve, Israel.


Geese at Oak Hammock Marsh, Manitoba.

 
JNF ANNOUNCES CHRISTINE MELNICK AS 2011 NEGEV GALA HONOUREE

MANITOBA AGREEMENT WITH JNF:OAK HAMMOCK MARSH AND ISRAEL'S HULA VALLEY BECOME SISTER MARSHES

By Rhonda Spivak, October 20, 2010

The Jewish National Fund announced on  October 18, 2010 in the Hula Valley in Israel that  Christine Melnick is the  JNF Honouree for the 2011  Negev Gala.

This was announced at the same time that the Province of Manitoba signed a partnership agreement with the  JNF-KKL which will link environmental experts working to preserve and enhance Israel's Hula Valley in the Upper Galilee and Oak Hammock Marsh in Manitoba

The partnership between these two wetlands was signed by Melnick, Manitoba's  Minister of  Water Stewardship, and  Efi Stenzler, World Chairman of JNF-KKL. Members of  the delegation from the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, who are on a mission to Israel, were present for the ceremony as were JNF-KKL representatives, and Canadian Ambassador to Israel Paul Hunt .

"Thanks to strong partners such as the Jewish National Fund and Ducks Unlimited, we have reached a Sister Marshes agreement that will allow both countries to share their expertise on protecting precious wetlands," Melnick said in a statement after the signing ceremony.
 
In addition to sharing expertise on wetland science, the agreement will also promote environmental stewardship and ecotourism, provide the opportunity for the development of educational materials and promote both wetlands.

'We hope that this collaboration between the two countries will enable Lake Hula and Oak Hammock Marsh nature reserve to reach their full potential both as tourist attractions possessed of a rich and varied ecological system that feeds significant freshwater sources and as major way stations for migrating birds,'  Melnick added in a statement.

In a telephone interview   JNF Emissary for Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta,  Erez Rotem, who is currently in Israel, told the Winnipeg Jewish Review  that to  kick off the partnership JNF is 'looking into  to inviting staff personnel from Oak Hammock March to Israel in the  winter and then Israelis from Hula Valley will visit Oak Hammock Marsh during the  summer.”

Mel Lazareck, President of the JNF Prairie Region, who was also recently named by Premier Selinger as Manitoba’s Special Representative to Israel for Economic Affairs and Cultural Relations  told the Winnipeg Jewish Review from Israel that “we are in the discussion stage”  about this possible exchange.

Rotem also said that Lazareck first asked Melnick to be the upcoming JNF honouree for 2011 while in Jerusalem.

“Christine Melnick has been the pioneer of the special relationship between Israel and Manitoba.   After all of the many things that she has done to continuously strengthen  Manitoba’s relationship with Israel, including her founding of the  Manitoba-Israel Shared Values Roundtable, we think it is most fitting to name her the Negev Gala 2011 honouree. Israel doesn’t have any more stalwart friends than her,’ said Rotem.

He added, “We are very happy that she accepted.”

Lazarek  praised Melnick “for all of the extra-ordinary work she has done in promoting the relationship between  Manitoba and Israel” and said that “There is no one more deserving of this honour than her.”

Lazareck added that the signing ceremony for the partnering of the Hula Valley and Oak Hammock marsh was “excellent.”Lazareck added, “We got a tour of the sight and saw all of the [thousands] of pelicans and cranes in the Hula nature reserve. It was fabulous.”

Rotem noted " Wetlands are important for both jurisdictions as they  act as a filter for lakes. The vegitation in wetlands removes phoshates and other pollutants and improves the water we drink and air we breathe."

Israel’s Hula Valley was once an important resting and “refueling” place for migrating birds on their annual trip from Europe to Africa and back. Shortly after the establishment of the State, it was decided to drain the Hula swamp and lake to turn it into arable land, but part of the Hula waterscape was preserved with a 3,200-dunam lake kept as a nature reserve.

Tens of thousands of birds of over 200 species, including cranes, storks, pelicans, cormorants and egrets, stay in the reserve, knowing they can find an abundance of food. The reserve also shelters rare aquatic plants, such as yellow flag, paper reed and white water-lily.

Manitoba’s Oak Hammock Marsh is an important staging area for hundreds of thousands of ducks and geese and for many other species. It is a safe protected area for the birds to stop and eat, building up fat reserves before starting the next leg of their journey.  Approximately 90% of the birds at Oak Hammock marsh,  do not spend the winter here. They migrate farther south, anywhere from the southern United States to the south tip of South America.

The Hula nature reserve and Oak Hammock marsh, which are both bird-conservation sites,  have significant features in common. Both have been restored after being damaged by human activity, and each is located on one of the world’s two foremost bird migration routes: from Europe to Africa and from North America to South America. A great deal of effort has been invested in educational activities at both sites, and both serve as centers for scientific research. 

  “This  [partnership agreement]... proves that we share the same values – scientific progress, educatio

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.