Operating under the auspices of the Academy since 2011, the National Ecosystem Assessment Program (HaMaarag) was established to promote knowledge-based management of Israel’s open areas and natural resources, for the benefit of humanity and the long-term sustainability of nature in Israel.
HaMaarag, which means “the tapestry” in Hebrew, represents a partnership of governmental and regulatory bodies, philanthropic organizations, and scientists aimed at providing those responsible for the management and protection of Israel’s various ecosystems and natural resources with the tools to carry out their work in a more informed and efficient manner.
HaMaarag’s National Monitoring Program is tasked with determining the most significant processes taking place within each of Israel’s 12 ecosystems and geographical regions, as well as with identifying major ecological threats. The Program’s achievements so far include: the monitoring of mammals in planted forests; a reptilian pilot survey according to a protocol developed by the Program; an autumn butterfly study, which serves as an indicator for the influence of human populations and woody plant crowding on biodiversity in Mediterranean woodland regions; and the mapping of Israel’s woody plants with unprecedented precision.
The program also monitors the Mediterranean coastline ecosystem, which has undergone rapid and dramatic changes in recent years, in terms of number of threats and biodiversity. This represents a novel national attempt to gather comprehensive information and raise awareness of the major knowledge gaps that persist regarding this ecosystem. HaMaarag is also collaborating with Haifa University, Israel, to set up an aquatic biodiversity monitoring research station accessible to all researchers and academic institutions.
HaMaarag’s latest initiative, the Ecosystem Assessment project, is geared toward estimating the benefits to mankind of the Earth’s natural environment as a way of expressing and quantifying the importance of healthy and functioning ecosystems and biodiversity in different ecosystems.
In line with its belief that the data gathered belongs in the public domain, HaMaaragh as launched an open-access database containing a wide range of ecological data.