Unless a passageway wide enough for animals is established, the populations of Mountain gazelle and Roe deer living in the Ramat Hanadiv area may be so irreparably harmed that they will disappear altogether from the area.
The gazelle, the jackal, the porcupine and the fox are just some of the hundreds of wildlife species that roam the grounds of Ramat Hanadiv's Nature Park and its surroundings – mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates. The park stretches across some 1235 acres, surrounded by settelments, roads and railways. It is a kind of 'desert island' cut off from other natural spaces nearby, and its animal populations have become isolated, their numbers diminishing. Small, isolated animal populations such as these face a high prospect of extinction due to genetic causes and other exigencies.
Biodiversity depends to a great extent on the quality, quantity and connectivity of natural habitats. Fragmentation of the landscapes that comprise connectivity has a significant negative impact on the abundance of animals and their presence. One solution to this situation is the development and protection of ecological-corridors' that connect natural areas and smallhabitats.
At Ramat Hanadiv, researchers tracked the movements of animals within the Nature Park and outside it in order to assess the long-term vitality of its wildlife population and to identify optimal sites where wild animals may cross between the park and its environs. This would be the best way to support the ultimate survival of these animals in the area.
Nine species were chosen for tracking, all of them characteristic residents of Ramat Hanadiv and liable to be damaged by fragmentation of their natural habitats. They included the mountain gazelle, Roe deer, badger, fox, porcupine, Yellow necked mouse, chukar partridge (a ground dwelling bird), armored glass lizard and a beautiful species of butterfly, the 'false Apollo'. Yes, even butterflies need to take a break in grassy fields as they wend their way across distances — and a wide road with heavy traffic hinders their journey.
The findings of the study, which was carried out in cooperation with experts from the Dutch firm Alterra (who came here specially for this project), revealed that, among the nine species under investigation, only three would manage to survive long-term at Ramat Hanadiv in conditions of isolation. It also confirmed that almost all the species other than the butterfly need a physical link with similar populations outside Ramat Hanadiv in order to preserve the vitality of their populations. The large mammals — the Roe deer and the Mountain gazelle — are expected to suffer the greatest hits from isolation, and the research model predicts that they will eventually disappear. The remaining populations, for the most part, are expected to dwindle when regional industrial development east of Ramat Hanadiv cuts them off almost entirely from the surroundings.
In light of these projections, it is of utmost importance to take specific measures to prevent landscape fragmentation and guarantee the ongoing survival of the Roe deer and the Mountain gazelle, steps that will help the other species as well. Of these, the most effective tool is to ensure the establishment and protection of ecological corridors — safe passageways for animals from Ramat Hanadiv and the natural areas to its east — which would truly be lifelines for the wild animal populations of the Nature Park. The existing data indicate that the best site for such a corridor would be northeast of Ramat Hanadiv, between the Carmel industrial area and the area slated for the Wine Park neighbourhood. Why there, particularly? Because this is the spot that connects Ramat Hanadiv to similar habitats in the Givot Alona and Har Hurshen area.
Since the site lies on the border between Zichron Ya'akov and Binyamina-Givat Ada, Ramat Hanadiv has turned to both these local councils with a request to create a suitably wide eco-corridor. According to the current plan for the 'Wine Park', Zichron Ya'akov's industrial and residential project, the proposed eco-corridor is only 50 m. wide, not enough to allow passage of the Mountain gazelle and the Roe deer. Taking into account the planned length of this corridor, its width must be at least 100-150 m. for these species to make use of it. The development of the ecological corridor must answer the need for a functional crossing structure that facilitates safe crossing of the main road. Hence the entire subject calls for further consideration and discussion of appropriate solutions.