Runoff, Flood & Non-Sewage Wastewater for Native Tree Propagation

Project Number: 
Project Duration: 
23 months
June 1, 2006 to May 30, 2008
Institution of Principle Investigator while on this project: 
The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies

Investigators (most current known information)

Director, Center for Sustainable Agriculture, The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, Kibbutz Ketura, DN Eilot 88840, ISRAEL
TEL: +972-8-635-6652, FAX: +972-8-635-6634, Email:
Professor, Biology & Biotechnology, Biodiversity & Environmental Research Center (BERC), Til Village, PO Box 696, Nablus West Bank, ISRAEL
FAX: +972-9-234-6406, Email:
R&D; Manager, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Sede Boker, ISRAEL
TEL: +972-8-659-6796, FAX: +972-8-659-6802, Email:

Proposal Abstract

This project addressed the subject of water reclamation and reuse in arid regions. It worked to develop systems for water resource management in arid areas, including saline non-sewage wastewater, saline run-off and erosion causing run-off in three areas, in the high Negev (Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES)), near Beersheva (Ben-Gurion University (BGU)), and on the eroded slopes in the Nablus area of the Palestinian Authority (Biodiversity and Environmental Research Center (BERC)).

Native trees were encouraged to grow in depleted and marginal areas by using underutilized water sources such as run-off, hypersaline solutions and non sewage wastewater. The trees serve several purposes, stopping erosion, mitigating the force of the wind, providing food and fodder for grazing animals and increasing the amount of available food in marginal areas, therefore easing tensions between groups competing for scarce resources. This project encompassing several areas in the Negev desert of Israel and one in the Palestinian Authority (PA) was done cooperatively with a good working partnership between Bedouin and kibbutz-based goat-herders in the far south, Bedouin and Jewish private farmers near Beersheva and competing groups of Palestinians (nomadic and non-nomadic) near Nablus. In all three areas, trees were successfully propagated, planted, safeguarded and monitored for over three years. The trees were grown in challenging areas by using underutilized water resources including run-off water collected by shallow dams and an ancient terrace and cistern system. Hypersaline water was used where available. Graywater was used in one site. Over 90% of the trees survived and have developed normally. It has been established that trees for arboreal pastures must be chosen carefully in relation to altitude, minimum and maximum temperatures tolerated, and to type and quantity of water resources available. In short, the trees must be chosen to fit each site with an eye to their many products, uses and potentials. Even young trees have a positive influence on wind and water erosion in vulnerable areas. An extended period of protection is required to allow the plants to achieve sufficient growth before they can be harvested or grazed. This period may have to exceed three years to be effective. The planted areas will not be immediately suitable for uncontrolled grazing, but will be very useful during the periods when the spring flush of wild plants and grasses has already been eaten by the flocks. Enough mixed trees could supply most of the summer food for flocks at a ratio of approximately twenty trees per animal, if the fodder is cut and brought to the animals. Direct pasturing will have to be done to get an indication of a tree-to-animal ratio, if the fodder is not cut but is eaten by the animals directly from the plantings. In all, this project has proved to suggest a promising way to ease tensions between communities competing for scare resources, increase the amount of animal food and fodder in marginal areas and to stop wind and water erosion in vulnerable sites.


Articles in Journals

Rabia, A.R., E. Solowey, and S. Leu. 2008. “Environmental and economic potential of Bedouin dryland agriculture: a case study in the Northern Negev, Israel.” Journal of Management of Environmental Quality 19(3):353-366.

Solowey, E. “Increased productivity of semi-arid shrublands by Acacia victoria silvipastures.” (in reparation)

Solowey, E. “The impact of grazing on natural plant biodiversity in Nablus District.” Israel. (in preparation)

Book Chapter

Solowey, E. 2010. Arboreal Pastures. In Growing Bread on Trees: The Case for Perennial Agriculture, ed. E. Solowey. Bibliobooks/Thistle Syndicate. (to be published)

Conferences for Stakeholders

Stakeholder conferences to insure cooperation and good relationships were held during the first and second years of the project. Good relations continue to this day among all parties and lines of communication established. A final stakeholders meeting will be held during the fall of 2010.


Solowey, E. 2009. Presented at the Negev Conference on Agriculture. Yotvata, Israel


Solowey, E. 2009. Lecture at Conference of the Israeli Organization of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Rehovot, Israel.


Support for this project came from the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service