By Alon Tal
Read Online or Download All the Trees of the Forest: Israel’s Woodlands from the Bible to the Present PDF
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Extra resources for All the Trees of the Forest: Israel’s Woodlands from the Bible to the Present
Disputes over such classiﬁcations are only part of the problem. What of the biological authenticity of the names we ascribe to biblical tree? As the ancients left no dendrology or taxonomic textbooks behind, ﬁguring out just which of today’s trees ﬁt the biblical botanical designation is a mighty challenge indeed. ≤π And there is no shortage of other trees with regard to which the conventional classiﬁcation is challenged. For instance, biblical ﬂora maven Nogah HaReuveni was convinced that the atad plant had been incorrectly translated as the lowly boxthorn shrub.
But the primary phenomenon that set societies on the road to ruin was deforestation. Considering this factor in the sudden extinction of the human settlement on Easter Island, Diamond writes: ‘‘The reason for Easter’s unusually severe degree of deforestation isn’t that those seemingly nice people really were unusually bad or improvident. . ’’πΩ The land of Israel is primarily comprised of drylands that are not particularly robust and ultimately are highly vulnerable to human abuse. Consistent with the well-documented desertiﬁcation syndrome, it follows that the tremendous poverty, erosion, depopulation, poor agricultural yields, and low life expectancy that characterized Palestine during the Ottoman reign were also among the misfortunes produced by deforestation.
Seemingly to its credit, a token effort to address the deforestation problem was made in 1860, when the Ottoman administration invited French experts to help them design forestry legislation and an associated government agency. ∏≠ In 1903 a Forest Law was ﬁnally enacted which contained measures to protect existing forests and to create a framework for afforestation. ∏≤ Because of his inimitable, jocular style and longterm popularity, Samuel Clemens—otherwise known as author Mark Twain —did more than any visitor to engrave into public consciousness an indelible From the Bible to the British 23 picture of a desolate Holy Land during the twilight of the Ottoman rule.
All the Trees of the Forest: Israel’s Woodlands from the Bible to the Present by Alon Tal