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Let's Talk Business: The Israeli Private Sector’s New Nature Protection Toolkit.

It’s no secret that Israel’s business sector has a dramatic impact on the country’s ecology and biodiversity.

In recent years, ecological disasters, like the acid leak that contaminated the Ashalim waterbed and the Trans-Israel pipeline oil spill that caused long-term damage to the Evrona Nature Reserve, have become somewhat commonplace, indicating a serious problem with the way that the business sector views the environment. 

Companies, factories, industrial parks and Government-owned business across the country often do not have the tools and awareness for how to manage their impact on  the natural world around them.  For example, the Israel Electric Corporation has run tens of thousands of kilometers of powerlines in a way that causes the frequent collision and electrocution of birds.  Agricultural fields that are adjacent to – or even in the heart of – natural open areas are fenced in and treated with pesticides, a method that causes the fragmentation of ecological corridors and threatens wildlife.  The network of roads maintained by Israel’s National Transport Infrastructure Company (Netivei Israel) segments wildlife habitats and increases the risk of roadkill.

But it’s not just “big business” that’s negatively impacting Israel’s ecology and biodiversity.  Smaller businesses, like pet shops and plant nurseries, can unintentionally distribute invasive species of flora and fauna, threatening the local species and doing untold damage to Israel's nature.

As such, significant measures must be taken to safeguard Israeli nature, while taking into account the rapid pace and dynamic growth of the business sector.  Because state mandated regulations and conservation efforts often lack the required resources, professional knowledge and enforcement, it is up to nature protection organizations and activists to provide the needed support.

The first order of business is ensuring the successful adoption and implementation of nature protection values by companies of every industry and size to:

1. Increase awareness regarding their substantial impact on the environment and biodiversity;

2. Provide them with practical tools, guidelines and solutions to minimize their negative ecological impact;

3. Refute the belief that the implementation of ecologically sound operating procedures and nature protection safeguards are part of an inefficient and irrelevant system that carries high costs but no real benefits.

Over the last several years, SPNI, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA), has initiated and funded projects that promote the integration of nature protection values across Israel’s business sector, making significant strides with several corporations and businesses, including Tabor Wineries, Henson Cement Group, Israel Electric Company and many others.

This initiative has led to the development of a functional toolkit that enables companies to implement environmental guidelines, while still advancing their own business goals.  A dedicated website was recently launched to enhance the toolkit, offering companies advanced digital tools, including:

1. A Geographic Information System (GIS) data engine. This interactive system allows companies to upload the geographic location of their operations and immediately receive clear and detailed information regarding the level and scope of the site's ecological vulnerability, including the existence of ecological corridors, nature reserves, streams, forests, etc.  Companies are also alerted as to whether or not their sites are located in "hotspots," areas that are exceptionally rich in biodiversity.

2. Management and reporting software.  This tool allows companies to perform analyses regarding the impact of their businesses on ecology and biodiversity and integrate the findings into the corporate responsibility reporting system, as per Israeli Biodiversity Protocol.  Utilizing a simple checklist, this tool provides a comprehensive overview of the company's ecological impact.

3. Protocols and guidelines for implementation.  To help companies minimize their negative ecological impact, this collection of detailed specifications and guidelines includes:

  • Instructions to prevent light pollution;
  • Hygiene guidelines to prevent the outbreak of a phenomenon related to stray animals;
  • Guidelines to keep invasive species from spreading and taking hold of new areas (especially significant in the infrastructure, quarries and agriculture sectors);
  • Instructions to maintain ecological connectivity and avoid spatial fragmentation;
  • Protocol on ecological gardening, mosquito pest control, coastal environment infrastructure management, and more.

The business sector is a valuable partner in the effort to preserve and protect nature in Israel, so it is our hope that these newly accessible and easy to use tools will encourage more companies to integrate nature protection values into their core business activity.