5 Forests in Israel with Fascinating Stories

August 27th 2018

Among the most beautiful places to visit in Israel are the nation’s many forests, each of which contain a diverse range of flora, fauna, and historical sites of interest. For such a small country, much of which is desert, Israel has an amazingly diverse landscape, and the forests in Israel are testament to the careful management and cultivation of the land.

The land has always been important to the Jewish people. Ever since the birth of the modern state – and even before – there have been active measures put in place to not only preserve but also to expand areas of natural beauty. Part of this has involved the planting of trees and the growth of forests, many of which were destroyed during the Ottoman Era.

Thanks to the efforts of the JNF, who have planted over 200 million trees, there are now more than 250 beautiful forests right across Israel.

Some of our favorite Israeli forests, open to the public, include:

Martyrs Forest

The Martyrs Forest, located on the banks of the Kisalon River in the Jerusalem corridor, is a forest created to commemorate the Holocaust victims. In 1951, six million trees were planted in their memory.

The forest contains a diverse range of trees. Species include pine, cypress, eucalyptus, kermes oak, and carob. There are also beautiful woodland flowers and numerous animal species which have made the forest their home. Special sites include the Scroll of Fire and the Anne Frank Memorial.

Jerusalem Forest

Located just outside Jerusalem on the hills west of the city, the Jerusalem Forest was first planted in the late 1950s. Today it is a beautiful green accompaniment to the wonders of the Holy City. Trees in the forest include pine, cypress, Palestine oak, and numerous fruit trees.

The forest is also the location of Yad Vashem and the Mount Herzl national cemetery. Throughout the woodland there are also many walking and cycling trails as well as picnic areas and archeological sites.

Ramat Menashe Park

Recognized by UNESCO as the first biosphere reserve in Israel, the Ramat Menashe Park’s forests are ones to visit if you’re interested in sustainability and environmental issues.

Located south of the Carmel, Ramat Menashe features not just forests but also beautiful meadows, working villages, orchards, and springs, all of which are carefully planned, managed, and cultivated according to ecological principles.

Yatir Forest

The Yatir Forest, situated in the north-western Negev, is Israel’s largest planted-forest. Back in 1961, when the first trees were planted, the foresters wondered whether the trees would thrive. Yatir borders the desert region on the lower slopes of the Hebron hills, east of the city of Beer Sheba. However, against all the odds, the trees did thrive.

Today there are more than four million trees and also a number of vineyards. Tree species include Jerusalem pine, cypress, Atlantic terebinth, tamarisk, pistachio, and fig. There are a number of walking routes and also a variety of interesting historical sites including the ruins of ancient Yatir.

Switzerland Forest

If you love trees and enjoy breathtaking views, then the Switzerland Forest is for you. Located on the western edge of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), the Swiss Forest was first developed in the early 20th Century to prevent flooding and mudslides from pouring into the nearby city of Tiberias.

The forest grows on a steep incline and affords walkers stunning views across the local region. There are numerous interesting species including river red gum, coojong, Persian turpentine, eucalyptus, Jerusalem pine, and buckthorn. There are plenty of observation points and picnic areas.