Shomer Haya'ar Program
Caring For Our Forests
>>Safekeeping Israel's forests while connecting the younger generation to the land and vocation of forestry.
9 locations Golan and Galilee | 26 full-time team members | 24/7-365 days a year | 4,000 youth volunteers | 93,000 acres of forestland secured |Significant reduction in fires within its 1st year
ShomerHaYa'ar, "The Forest Keeper," is an extraordinary program that safeguards the forests of northern Israel while teaching ecological education and love of land to the next generation. Bringing expertise from years of safeguarding farmland, HaShomerHaChadash partnered with Keren KayemethLeIsrael (KKL-JNF Israel) in 2014 to launch ShomerHaYa'ar, protecting Israel's forests while connecting the young generation to the land and vocation of forestry. The program maintains nine locations across three regions - the Golan and northern Galilee, Gilboa and southern Galilee, and Carmel Mountain range - covering close to 93,000 acres of pastures and forests. Each post is manned by teams of eight men and women following their military service. These teams work in shifts around the clock, cutting and trimming trees and brush, preventing and extinguishing fires, and keeping the forests clean. Once a week, participants study Jewish philosophy and Zionist history, an important element which underscores the significance of their daily work. The program is supported by government-sponsored volunteers and Young Leadership participants, giving a total of 150 days of service to the program. Additionally, the program brings 4,000 volunteers to the forests, mainly youth, to help clean the forests, learn about the land, and understand its importance. ShomerHaYa'ar provides a real and deep connection to the land, familiarizing participants with the field of forestry, facilitating the discovery of their ability to bear intense physical labor, and rejuvenating their Zionist spirit. The program is effective: in the summer of 2014, the first year of the program, KKL-JNF reported a significant reduction in the number of fires. "This partnership is exemplary, working collaboratively with KKL and with firefighters to protect the land and extinguish fires. It demonstrates that young Israelis are willing to roll up our sleeves and work 12 hours in the field. Most participants come with no experience. Today, they love their work intensely, working with smiles on their faces – some even plan to study agriculture and water engineering. But I believe it is the element of education, the love of land, which is key." – Amiad Foxman, Golan & Northern Galilee Post Director, ShomerHaYa'ar