Ein Gedi Oasis - Israel
Ein Gedi Oasis is located next to the Dead Sea, in the
extreme desert of the Syrian-African Rift. Because it is watered by four
main springs it feeds two perennial canyon streams, with spectacular
The oasis supports many Sudanian tropical floral species, which are Miocene
and Pleisto-cene relicts at their northern limit in this oasis. The Ein Gedi
Oasis ecosystem is a unique ref-uge for tropical-savannah plants at a
distance of thousands kilometers from their main range and at the northern
marginal of their distribution in the world. In ancient times, Ein Gedi was
known for its cultivation of balsam incense trees for temple use and
international medicinal trade.
Ein Gedi is rich in religious and cultural history. The Biblical references
to Ein Gedi make it im-portant for both Judaism and Christianity. In both, it
represents tropical lushness in a harsh land, and also a place of refuge.
Ein Gedi is specifically important for Jewish self understanding and
appreciation of heritage. In this place Jews reconnect with their ancient
heritage and also with nature. Kibbutz Ein Gedi, the modern agricultural
community located on the southern edge of the oasis, with its date
plantations and other farming, is an example of that restoration of
connection between ancient and modern Israel.
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) is responsible for both
protection and public education in the park and nature reserve. In addition
there is a Field School of the Society for Protection of Nature in Israel
(SPNI) located at Ein Gedi. This organization focuses on public education in
appreciation of natural and cultural heritage.
The current problems of the site concern the increasing visitors and the
water shortage. Sug-gestions for promoting a holistic view of the site,
combining both spiritual and cultural aspects and natural heritage values,
are needed to foster a more sustainable development.
Responsible: Dr. Linda Olsvig-Whittaker