Tel Aviv Nature Reserve – Residents campaign for urban nature,
Tel Aviv is a coastal city built on dunes made up of ridges of calcareous sandstone known as Kurkar, interspersed with red, sandy loam, or Hamra. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has identified fifteen Important Plant Areas (IPA) in Israel. One of the seven they pronounced as having high priority for conservation is the unique vegetation associated with the sandy habitats on Hamra soil and Kurkar (https://portals.iucn.org/library/efiles/documents/2011-014.pdf, pg 49). Most of the original dunes in the Tel Aviv area have been razed due to fast pace development and urbanization. There remain however 500 dunams (123 acres) of natural habitat situated along the Northwestern coast of Tel Aviv. There are a diversity of species special to this area (some of which are threatened species) which have been recorded in a comprehensive nature survey carried out throughout a whole year.
The area is now threatened by a city development plan to turn the area into a designed parkland which will include lawns, playgrounds, cafes, parking lots and other facilities. For four years a group of residents have been working together to change the intent of this ridge and preserve its current topography by declaring “Tel Aviv Nature Reserve” an urban nature reserve. We have initiated a variety of activities intended to illustrate the enormous potential for the residents and thus for the city of Tel Aviv. Thousands of people have attended our activities so far, including classes from kindergartens through to high school, higher education institutions, summer camps, youth groups, families and elder citizens. Our campaign enjoys the support and cooperation of The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (http://natureisrael.org/).
Soon the city will release a request for proposal for architects and urban designers to submit plans for the area. The contestants are obliged to conform to the recommendations of the above mentioned nature survey. This still leaves them the autonomy to determine what percentage of this small area will be left completely natural and to what extent the remaining area will be developed. We are preparing a one-day seminar for prospective contestants of the call for proposal. Academics in the fields of botany, architecture and urban design, environmentalists and activists, will speak to emphasize the importance of preserving this natural area.