Among the hangers, control towers, and the office of the Base Commander, lie magnificent nature reserves within the walls of several airbases: the northern Regional Control Unit shares a border with a natural forest; at the Nevatim airbase, a new forest is being grown; and in the Palmachim airbase, there is a burial cave from the Byzantine period. In honor of the Jewish holiday, Tu Beshvat (Jewish Arbor Day), IAF Site explores the green corners of the blue airbases
Nadav Berger and Shani Pomes
On IAF airbases around the country, alongside the planes and the operational activity, beautiful natural areas are being tended, in which special trees, animals and even antiques can be found. As these areas of beauty are located within the walls of airbases, their entrance is closed to people not wearing army uniforms. However, in honor of the Jewish Arbor Day, you too will get to take a virtual tour of these hidden reserves.
Controllers Atop the Mountain
The soldiers of the northern Regional Control Unit spend their whole service atop Mount Hermon and watch the green landscapes of the Galilee. Near the unit, there is a winding trail on the mountain, at an altitude of 1130-1180 meters, and serves as a nature site for soldiers and travelers alike, who can view the Mediterranean woodlands at the foot of the mountain. In 1969, the trail was marked and even added to the famous “Israel Trail” route.
UAVs beside Sycamore Trees
At the Palmachim airbase, there is an official nature reserve, where a variety of flora and fauna are protected. The location of this reserve on a closed military base actually benefits it, as it serves as a shelter and protects it from human damage. At the nature reserve, which is maintained in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority and the Environmental Protection Society, you can find, among other plants, sycamore trees, carob, eucalyptus trees, golden asters, strawberry trees and Retama broom bushes. Alongside these plants, there are different animals such as rodents, lizards, rabbits, boars, and sand gerbils. At the reserve, you can also find, among other things, ancient sites and man-made artifacts such as the Canaanite battery, which is a vast hill which was built in the Canaanite period, around 3,500 years ago, and a burial cave from the Byzantine period. The soldiers of the base get to enjoy the largest reserve through a bike trail that was established under the aegis of the UAV School. Soon, two more trails will be added to the nature reserve and a special application will be launched, in which a map of the reserve will be displayed alongside quizzes, pictures, and explanations of the different species of plants and animals.
At the Nevatim airbase in the Negev, a new, green tradition began around two months ago: On a plot of land near the office of the Base Commander, a “visitor forest” was recently established, in which senior officers of the force are invited to plant a young olive tree, upon completing their service. As the years pass, and the roots expand deeper in the soil, so the young tree will become part of the land of the forest, which will be filled with green leaves. The corner was inaugurated by the Head of the Air Division, Brigadier General, Amikam Norkin, who is expected to be the next Chief of Air Staff.