For the first time in a decade, the Environmental Protection Authority in Israel updated its list of protected species. The update was required based on Israel’s 1995 agreement with the UN Convention to Biological Diversity. According to the website the agreement recognizes that “biological resources are vital to humanity’s economic and social development, that biological diversity is a global asset of tremendous value to present and future generations, and that the threat to species and ecosystems has never been so great as it is today.”
Minister Zeev Elkin approved hundreds of new animals and plant species to be added to the list. The added species are authorized when they have conservation value, are in danger of extinction, or both. Protected species are considered based on the natural impact of climate change as well as the increasing threats of habitat destruction, overuse by humans, or introduction of invasive species.
For the first time ever, thirteen species of freshwater fish were added to the list, which will hopefully support more resources and attention in protecting its underwater habitat as well. Another addition was the Egyptian fruit bat, typically seen as a pest to farmers yet adds value to the ecosystem in supporting pollination.
In addition to fish and birds, wild plants and flower species which exist in places threatened to be destroyed were added to the list. The list was created in partnership with the Agriculture Ministry and the Nature and Parks Authority. While the Environmental Minister added hundreds of species to the list, he did not deliver on two particular species – Atlantic bluefin tuna and dusky grouper – a move likely based on the fear of harming the fishing industry. The list will be reviewed in two years’ time after monitoring the fish populations in order to determine the next steps.