Rehabilitation and Preservation of Open Spaces in the Tekuma Region: Benefits and Best Practices

Rehabilitation and Preservation of Open Spaces in the Tekuma Region: Benefits and Best Practices

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The Western Negev region boasts natural areas of immense social, economic, environmental, and scenic value. However, its ecological systems have faced threats for years, including development pressure, agricultural expansion, conversion of natural growth areas to cultivated fields, and an uptick in fires. Following the 7 October attacks by Hamas and the ensuing war, extensive restoration and development efforts are anticipated, encompassing construction, energy production, infrastructure expansion, and more. While these actions are crucial, there are concerns about potential irreversible damage to the region's open spaces.

Until now, the Tekuma (Revival) Administration has not placed adequate emphasis on preserving and restoring open spaces. This document aims to highlight the importance of conserving these areas in the region, underlining their significance in shaping identity, fostering a sense of belonging, and preserving cultural heritage for diverse communities. Additionally, it seeks to establish key principles that should guide restoration and development efforts in the Western Negev, aiming to prevent further harm to its open spaces.

The Importance of Open Spaces in General – and in the Western Negev in Particular 

Social Resilience: The natural environment surrounds all the communities in the Western Negev, including both rural and urban areas, and forms a significant part of the residents' social and cultural identity. The connection to nature is a central aspect of their identity, fostering community cohesion and serving as a powerful source of social and communal resilience.

Economic Value: Open spaces in rural areas are crucial for human well-being and economic development, offering a wealth of economic opportunities. According to the World Bank, every dollar invested in ecological restoration yields a return of between 7 and 110 dollars. The natural areas in the Western Negev generate economic value by promoting tourism, supporting agriculture services, enhancing residents' health, bolstering climate resilience, and providing ecosystem services.

Tourism and Recreation: A tourism industry that leverages an area's distinctive geographical and cultural features can stimulate economic growth, create employment opportunities, and generate income for small and medium enterprises. The "Red South" festival (“Darom Adom”) serves as an excellent illustration of how the Western Negev's unique natural assets enhance local tourism.

Support for Agriculture Services: Natural open areas play a crucial role in supporting agriculture in the region. The agriculture sector in the Western Negev is a key element of Israel's food security system, relying on open areas for essential services such as water purification, pollination, and grazing land for livestock.

Physical and Mental Health: Accessible open spaces positively impact the physical and mental health of nearby communities. Furthermore, studies indicate that visiting natural areas provides significant therapeutic benefits for trauma victims, making these spaces valuable therapeutic resources for communities recovering from collective trauma.

Environment and Biodiversity: The presence of contiguous and undisturbed natural areas is essential for the effective functioning of ecological systems. The Western Negev region, with its high ecological value, encompasses a diverse range of natural habitats that support numerous animal species. Additionally, the region boasts several ecological corridors, the uninterrupted continuity of which is crucial for sustaining the area's ecological systems.

Climate Resilience: The presence of vast open spaces enhances the resilience of the region and its communities to climate change. Given the climate change trends in the Northern Negev, a comprehensive adaptation strategy is essential, with a primary focus on leveraging the potential of open spaces to mitigate flood risks. This underscores the importance of preserving flood plains and riverbanks.

Best Practices for Preserving and Restoring Open Spaces in the Western Negev 

  • Development in the Western Negev should be sustainable and visionary, preserving its environmental qualities, uniqueness, and open spaces.
  • The physical development of the area should focus on enhancing existing cities, giving priority to disturbed areas over open spaces, and promoting dual land use. Rural areas should be restored according to their current layout, with no new towns or villages established.
  • The planning of restoration actions should adopt a regional approach, highlighting the area's unique advantages, such as enhancing its natural values and promoting diverse tourism.
  • Engaging all local communities in the Western Negev is vital for planning its restoration and development, concurrently reinforcing existing local initiatives, organizations, and institutions.
  • Reconstruction should avoid areas recognized for their environmental value or those deemed unsuitable from a health perspective.
  • When implementing ecological restoration actions, it is crucial to consider the ecosystem needs of relevant stakeholders, particularly focusing on representatives of the local communities.
  • Establishing an effective mechanism for managing and preserving the open spaces in the Western Negev area is essential.
  • Expanding and safeguarding riverbeds should involve the creation of buffer zones to separate the natural area from the developed area. Securing funding is essential for conducting the necessary physical operations to restore habitats to their optimal functioning, enhance their connectivity, and bolster and diversify existing wildlife populations.
  • Securing funding is crucial for research initiatives that address current knowledge gaps regarding open spaces in the Western Negev, as well as for policy analysis projects that contribute to formulating practical policy recommendations in this area.


Product details
Date of Publication
January 2024
Dr. Ben Belek, The Israel Society of Ecology and Environmental Sciences
Number of Pages
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Table of contents

תקציר עיקרי הדברים 
חשיבות השטחים הפתוחים באופן כללי – ובנגב המערבי בפרט 
עקרונות ליישום מיטבי של שיקום ושימור של השטחים הפתוחים בחבל תקומה 
1 . הקדמה 
2 . הסיכונים לשטחים הפתוחים 
3 . חשיבות השטחים הפתוחים באופן כללי – ובנגב המערבי בפרט 
חוסן חברתי – שימור המורשת המקומית והייחוד המקומי 
ערך כלכלי 
תיירות וטיילות 
תמיכה בשירותי חקלאות 
בריאות הגוף והנפש 
הסביבה והמגוון הביולוגי 
חוסן אקלימי 
4 . עקרונות ליישום מיטבי של שיקום ושימור של השטחים הפתוחים בחבל תקומה