Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Largest Eco-Tourism Project in Israel's History

Simply, it's one of the world's most dramatic environmental initiatives, transforming the unsightly 2,000-acre Hiriya garbage dump on the outskirts of Tel Aviv into a magnificent park and 24-hour recreational hotspot. Since the dump was created decades ago, it has been both an eyesore and an ecological mess, complete with a terrible stench and swarming herds of scavenger birds and other varmints.

But that was then. Now, this mess is close to be reborn as Ayalon Park, one of the world's largest urban parks, dotted with trees, tropical gardens, and hiking, horseback riding and bicycling trails. The total transformation of this dump into an oasis of green is an engineering and environmental masterpiece, worthy of visiting.

The 230-foot Hiriya Mountain, a waste-mound in the park's center, has been transformed into an eco-friendly attraction of terraces, shaded foot paths and areas with benches and tables for rest or picnics. Atop Hiriya Mountain, there's a spectacular panoramic views of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

But it's not just pretty trees and picnic areas. There's an enormous Recycling Center, 75 acres large, at the base of the "healed" mountain, which uses state-of-the-art technologies for recycling waste -- the very same plastic, paper, dead cell phones and other junk that once simply was dumed on top of the growing piled.

Arie Sommer, Comissioner of Tourism, North and South America, said, "The park will be a hotspot for nature-seeking tourists and a "front door" to Tel Aviv's amazing natural landscape."

Congrtatulations to Tel Aviv and Israel for this astounding green initiative. It's something I hope will be copied with other cities with similar unsightly and eco-dangerous dumps.