Status and Trends of Biodiversity
Israel is located at the junction of three continents and at the crossroads of climatic and botanic regions. Due to this wide range of physical conditions, there exists a rich variety of flora and fauna including some 2,400 plant, 7 amphibian, 100 reptile, 530 bird, over 100 mammal and 32 fish species. According to the Red Book, some 35% of the country’s vertebrates, 20% of the nesting bird species and 83% of amphibians are endangered. More than half of the 34 vertebrates, which are listed as extinct, are wetland dependant species. Current information shows that there are 148 endemic plant species and 405 species are listed as endangered. Biodiversity is endangered largely as a result of accelerated development and population growth. Other problems include: habitat fragmentation, ecosystem degradation, invasive alien species, intensive use of fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture, diversion and drying up of wetlands and environmental pollution.
Number and Extent of Protected Areas
About 20% of Israel’s land area is preserved within declared nature reserves. Most of these are located in the desert area in the south of the country. Only about 3% of the Mediterranean region is currently protected in nature reserves. By 2004, 160 nature reserves and 54 national parks were declared and established out of a total of 380 nature reserves and 115 national parks which are currently in various stages of planning and approval. In all, Israel’s nature reserves (existing and planned) span an area of 6,130 thousand square kilometers and its national parks span an area of 370,000 square kilometers.
Percentage of Forest Cover
The current inventory of natural and planted forest is 160,000ha, which accounts for approximately 7% of Israel’s land area.