I hold a BA in Natural Sciences and Law, and an MA in Urban and Regional Planning, specializing in environmental planning. Throughout my life, I have been involved in various fields of nature preservation. I began my career with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) as a teacher-soldier, and years later, I moved into environmental planning, working as the director of the Planning Department in the Ministry of Environmental Protection. I also worked for two years in the private sector as an independent planner and lawyer.
Despite its small size, the State of Israel is characterized by exceptional biological diversity on an international scale. In addition, Israel will soon become the most densely populated country in the Western world. These two factors, coupled with constant pressure for development, presents a profound challenge in the effort to preserve Israel’s nature. The planning arena is, therefore, an important key in the effort to preserve open spaces of a size, continuity and quality that will ensure the preservation of nature in Israel. However, preserving the open spaces is not enough, and the next step is land management in a manner that will preserve biodiversity for the future as well. In recent years, we have also been working to preserve nature and biodiversity in marine habitats, which are very much threatened by various development initiatives.
SPNI is Israel’s leading, oldest and largest nature preservation organization. Since its establishment in 1953, SPNI has been active in a variety of fields for the conservation of Israel’s biodiversity: influencing decision makers in the planning committees, the Knesset, the government and the legal arena; ongoing formal and informal educational activities for all ages; and public campaign activities. The preservation of biodiversity in Israel presents a crucial challenge, in which SPNI, as a civil society organization with a wide arrange of professional capabilities, plays a significant and leading role.
Iris was named as one of the ‘100 most influential people in Israel’ by the Marker Magazine
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Fellowships and awards
Make sure to check out the the David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship Program, for Post-docs at American Universities.
This past June the 5th European Congress of Conservation Biology took place in Jyväskylä, Finland. It was attended by over 800 delegates including 10 Israelis. The conference itself was excellent – many interesting lectures, discussions, workshops and events. The main theme of the meeting was planetary wellbeing and consequently the CBD, IPEBES and biodiversity offsets featured in the plenaries. Beyond that there were many other topics representing the truly interdisciplinary field of conservation. Some research presented dealt with the effectiveness of conservation actions and measuring these, perspectives on the natural environment and human wellbeing, how different stakeholders could be better involved with conservation – from global policy-makers to local communities, new tools such as genomics and culturomics were presented and much more.
One of the nice additions to this meeting was having an in-house cartoonist that followed the meeting - Seppo Leinonen. An extremely nice guy who drew elaborate cartoons following all of the plenaries (while the speakers were speaking…) and in the breaks between lectures – drew for whomever wanted a cartoon based on their conservation work / story. At times, the queue to get your cartoon drawn was even longer than that to get coffee and that is saying a lot!
We also had lots of fun in the evenings – enjoying the midnight sun in Finland, nice food and drinks, the plethora of lakes, and looking for flying squirrels in the city park. Hope you all will be able to join the SCB crowd in the upcoming ICCB 2019 in Malaysia, next summer!