Multifunctional Dryland Forestry: Accumulating Experience From the East-Mediterranean

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 11:50 AM
Yagil Osem, Agricultural Research Organization Volcani Center, Bet-Dagan, Israel, Moshe Shachack, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel and Itshack Moshe, KKL, Gilat, Israel
Although small in size the landscapes of East Mediterranean Israel extend over a wide geo-climatic gradient ranging from dry sub-humid to hyper-arid lands. Thousands of years under intense human exploitation in this region, involving cutting, livestock grazing, agricultural practice and fire have resulted in severe degradation of these water limited ecosystems. The highly degraded state of the native vegetation as found by the new settlers coming to Israel in the beginning of the previous century, has provided the basic motivation for an extensive afforestation enterprise carried out during the last 100 years. This talk will present an overview on the accumulating experience in establishing and managing multifunctional forests in this dryland region. Given their very limited timber value, dryland forests are designed and managed under various goals the important of which are landscape aesthetics, recreation opportunities, grazing land, ecosystem restoration and soil conservation. Being subjected to water scarcity of high temporal and spatial variation, these manmade systems are managed to withstand water deficiency of unpredictable magnitude through the manipulation of both water input and water consumption. In the dry subhumid regions, forest management focuses mainly on controlling water consumption through the manipulation of vegetation structure using thinning and livestock grazing as primary silvicultural tools. Going into the semiarid zone, practices of rainfall redistribution and runoff harvesting become crucial for tree establishment and growth. The implementation of these practices varies depending on topography, rainfall amount and forest goals. The talk will provide a brief description of these unique silvicultural systems, review some of the recent scientific work in them and refer to critical gaps in knowledge. The relevancy to intercrop agroforestry in rainfed ecosystems will be discussed.