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Irrigation and Drainage: Present Condition of Palestine before 1948 (Nakba), British Mandate: A Survey of Palestine: Volume I - Page 423. Chapter XI
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Posted on October 28, 2007
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British Mandate: A Survey of Palestine
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Posted by Webmaster on June 2, 2013 #150583

CHAPTER XI.

FORESTRY AND SOIL CONSERVATION.

Present condition of Palestine.

Palestine borders on the desert, but, except for the land south of Beersheba and certain parts of the Jordan valley, it is not itself a desert country. Considering only the part north of Beersheba, appearances are deceptive owing to long stretches of ruined mountains from which vegetation and soil have been practically stripped. The natural vegetation is woodland of varying types, of which oak is the predominant genus over wide areas. In recent years a large oak forest clothed the hills south and south-west of Hebron, until destroyed by overcutting and overgrazing. In various parts of Samaria the ruin of similar forests has been completed by the same agencies since 1934. Most of the pine and oak forests of Carmel have been lost during the past thirty years, while the destruction of natural scrub forest in Galilee is still progressing. In the plains a large forest of oak, stretching with some interruptions from Jaffa to Carmel, has gradually vanished during the past century. Stories are told of old pine forests south of Jaffa on the areas now covered by moving sand dunes. The scattered groves and forests of Ziziphus in the Jordan valley have also mostly disappeared in very recent times; one result of this process has been disastrous flooding on the slopes above Tiberias.

2. From this brief review, it will be seen that large tracts of mountainous country are suffering from almost total loss of forests, while others are in process of destruction. It is no matter for surprise that on the desert edge of the Mediterranean region the deforestation of Palestine has resulted in wide-spread erosion. Some areas have been reduced to sheet rock and boulders; on others the remaining soil is so scanty that successful agriculture is impossible. In northern Palestine, where the destruction of vegetation is more recent and the rainfall is greater, heavy losses of soil continue. Throughout the whole country, the detritus from the mountains has filled practically all the riverbeds in the plains, so that they are quite inadequate to carry the winter floods which sweep down from the rocky hills, spreading widely over the plains, depositing gravel and coarse silt on cultivated lands in some places, and washing away fertile topsoil from other fields . The removal

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