07/01/2015
Daffodils in Givat Hanarkisim, Dimona. Photo: Yarden Samet

Planned Neighborhood in Dimona Threatens Unique Natural Treasure
Daffodils in Givat Hanarkisim, Dimona 
Photo: Yarden Samet 
The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP) is opposing a decision by the Ministry of Interior, to promote the establishment of a new neighborhood on Givat Hanarkisim in the town of Dimona. Givat Hanarkisim is a unique area with a particularly high concentration of daffodils (narkisim is the Hebrew word for daffodils). Many visitors come to the site to enjoy its beauty, and construction of a new neighborhood, which would consist of 700 housing units, could destroy this natural treasure.

The MoEP presented its position during a discussion on the issue at a meeting of the Interior Ministry’s Southern District Committee. MoEP experts say the construction plan should not be promoted in its current form, since it will result in serious harm to open spaces and natural treasures. Instead, the experts demanded that project developers prepare an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), to both examine the impact construction on Givat Hanarkisim would have on the biodiversity in the area and to evaluate alternate plans.

The Interior Ministry’s Southern District Committee decided against the opinion of the MoEP, which acts as the committee’s environmental consultant. It ruled that the establishment of a new neighborhood will not have a significant effect on the environment, and that therefore, there is no need to prepare an EIA.

The MoEP plans to oppose the decision, in order to protect and preserve the unique natural phenomenon that currently exists in the midst of the desert. Daffodils bloom in wadis, in crevices, and in pockets of soil and rocky surfaces. They provide beautiful landscapes and views in the area. Their preservation is important to the biodiversity of the area, and also to many residents of Dimona. The decision by the Interior Ministry, says the MoEP, is inconsistent with the law, which requires the preparation of an EIA for such programs.

The daffodil, one of the best known flowers of Israel, was once also one of the most prevalent flowers. They continue to bloom In Dimona, thanks to the awareness of residents to the importance of preserving the flowers and the unique site. As a result, the Dimona Municipality has adopted the daffodil as a symbol of the city.