THE DELOS INITIATIVE

 
 

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 waterfalls.

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

E-mail: Linda.Whittaker@npa.org.il