Sustainability Garden at Ramat Hanadiv
Dr Racheli Schwartz-Tzachor and Hugo Jan Trago
Ramat Hanadiv plays a leading role in the management of natural and cultural resources based on sustainable interactions between man, nature and the environment, and encourages understanding and appreciation of this ideal (from Ramat Hanadiv's Vision Statement). Ramat Hanadiv's leading goals include: Managing and developing the Nature Park according to principles of ecological sustainability and embodying and providing examples of sustainable relationships between humankind and the environment.
In accordance with Ramat Hanadiv's vision and goals, we are interested in constructing a Sustainability Garden at Ramat Hanadiv. The garden will provide a platform to present and demonstrate "sustainability" - the concern to supply current humans' needs without endangering the ability of future generations to satisfy their own needs (the definition of sustainability as first expressed in the 1987 Brundtland Report). A range of sustainability issues will be presented in the garden, wherein each of them combines the three components of sustainability – environment, society and economics.
A giant kaleidoscope will be placed at the front of the garden, through which visitors watch a harmonic scene of constantly changing colors and shapes. The kaleidoscope viewing experience demonstrates the idea of the sustainable harmony that can be created by the wide range of forms combining humanity, the environment and natural elements. The garden will form a part of Ramat Hanadiv's holistic sustainable whole, which so far includes various issues and activities such as the ecological footprint garden, the compost site, the waste-water purification installation, the therapeutic gardening yard and the children's playground.
The garden establishment will take place in a sustainable manner with minimal impact to the natural rock, soil and plant infrastructure. Natural and recycled materials will be used to lay out paths, to build open areas, benches, shelters and signage. The process of the garden's construction will be continuously documented and presented on the Ramat Hanadiv internet site and at the garden itself for the purposes of teaching and encouraging the establishment of other sustainable gardens.
Sustainability issues to be presented in the garden in practice:
Biodiversity with emphasis on the conservation of rare plant species
In order to conserve the rich diversity of Ramat Hanadiv's plant species we must focus on the conservation of plant species that have become rare in Ramat Hanadiv and Israel and on preventing their extinction. Growing the rare species in a protected garden will complement their conservation at the natural sites and will provide a source of seeds and saplings to be returned to those sites.
Pollination and seed dispersal as an example of the ecological ecosystem services
In nature and agriculture, the pollination service is supplied to flowering plants by bees, butterflies and other insects. It is essential to their continued existence and to the preservation of their genetic diversity. The indispensability of the pollination process means that preserving the pollinators is also vital. Interesting special pollination processes will be demonstrated in the garden and a transparent bee-hive will be set up for learning about the life of the honey bee. The seed dispersal service supplied by birds and ants along with other animals is vital to the ongoing survival of countless plant species. Seed dispersal methods will be demonstrated and taught at the garden, emphasizing the coordination between the autumn bird migration and the ripening of the fruits on Mediterranean creepers and grove trees. This will operate alongside a station to be established at the garden for song-bird banding and monitoring.
Ethnobotany deals with the relationship between ethnology (the study of human culture) and botany (the study of plants) and focuses on the use of plants by humans for food, medicine, cosmetics and textiles. The garden will present some of the wide range of fruit trees and crops originating in plants native to the Land of Israel which have been domesticated by humans for food. The garden will also demonstrate olive oil production and present wild plants which provide a source for medicines, spices, pigments and more.
Renewable energy is energy originating in ongoing, non-exhaustible and renewable natural processes, such as: wind, solar radiation, ocean waves etc. Renewable energy sources differ from polluting and exhaustible energy sources such as fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas) and nuclear energy, the use of which involves carbon emissions and substantial reduction of the available energy reserve. The garden will demonstrate solar energy production, wind energy and production of energy from plants.
Wetlands and storm water management
In nature, wetlands are an efficient means of purifying water through natural biological processes. Constructed wetlands imitate these processes and form an efficient means to purify waste-water into clean water. The purification process is possible due to bacteria which decompose the pollutants. The bacteria's activity is ensured by the oxygen supply they receive from suitable plant roots which grow in the wetlands. Purification wetlands will be set up in the garden and will receive water previously purified at a bio-disk installation. This water will be re-purified to a level that will allow the growth of rare water plants which have previously died out at Ramat Hanadiv. During the rainy season, the storm water run-off from the office roof gutters will also be channeled to the garden through another wetland, and collected for re-use.
Biomimicry is an old-new discipline based on learning from nature, which it views as an infinite source of sustainable solutions for engineering, architecture, medicine and more. In the sustainability garden we will demonstrate how mechanisms and structures that evolved in plants and animals have inspired development and innovation in many fields.
Human health and well-being
The natural environment plays an important role in human health and well-being due to humans' natural connection to nature (according to the term Biophilia coined by E.O.Wilson in 1984). The general public's inclination to use the natural environment is higher when that environment is accessible and protected. Ramat Hanadiv Park provides a protected site, and the sustainability garden within it will be accessible and organized for the general public, including those with special needs.