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Nursery and Forest Management Technical Support in the West Bank

Bob Karrfalt and Clark Fleege view seeding conditions with Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture nursery staff. Forest Service photo.

THE WEST BANK — Bob Karrfalt, retired Director of the National Seed Laboratory, and Clark Fleege, Nursery Manager of Lucky Peak Nursery, conducted a 5-day technical visit to the West Bank on nursery and forest management, coordinated by the International Programs office and in partnership with the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture. The Forest Service team spent the week visiting nurseries, restoration sites, and seed collection areas, and conducting targeted trainings on nursery management to enhance MoA’s restoration goals.

The primary focus of this visit was to share guidelines for strategic planning and management of target seed species. The Forest Service worked closely with MoA leadership to develop monitoring and management protocols for seed biology, seed handling, and target seedling growing; assessed seed and seedling operations at three nurseries and provided recommendations to increase efficiencies; and provided and demonstrated appropriate seedling management technologies to nursery staff. The technical visit built on a series of exchanges, education opportunities, and trainings between the Forest Service and MoA since 2014, including regional exchanges to facilitate a network for improved nursery and restoration practices in the Middle East and North Africa.

The West Bank is one of the least forested area of the world, with approximately 1.45 percent of forested land area. Despite this statistic, forested and agricultural land are a significant cultural resource and a source of pride for Palestinian people.  Forested areas present opportunities for building awareness of environmental issues, providing economic growth opportunities, and mobilizing civil society around conservation goals. Few U.S. Government agencies operate in the West Bank, and activities that address natural resource conservation in the area are limited, making Forest Service support especially valued and significant.