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
My love for nature and passion for conservation has accompanied me throughout my life. Growing up at the edge of urban Jerusalem, I was exposed to the beauty of the Judean hills and wildlife watching, catching lizards and snakes, and hiking became my main interests as a kid. During childhood I spent the school-time working as an animal caretaker at the Jerusalem Zoo, while also participating and guiding tours through the SPNI. I continued on to a BSc and MSc in Ecology and Marine Biology, respectively, through Ben Gurion University and spent a couple of years working at various conservation and eco-tourism projects in Central America and South-East Asia. In the past 10 years I have worked as an environmental consultant at various agencies and organizations on a wide array of topics; restoration of damaged habitats, human-wildlife conflicts, ecological inputs in planning and environmental-educational schemes. During this time, I witnessed (what I see) as a huge gap between decision makers, organizations who deal with conservation and scientists, and the need for people who "speak all languages" to bridge between them and put conservation in the front - without neglecting human needs. Recently, I started my Ph.D. at Tel Aviv University in the Dr. Takuya Iwamura's Spatial Ecology lab, studying the dispersion patterns of rock hyraxes in Israel and its implications to the spread of Leishmaniasis, a subject that incorporates all of these gaps.
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