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Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2005)

Physical development in ecologically sensitive areas : environmental awareness in the planning process of the Dead Sea Region

Sztankeler, Vanesa

Titre : Physical development in ecologically sensitive areas : environmental awareness in the planning process of the Dead Sea Region

Auteur : Sztankeler, Vanesa

Université de soutenance : Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Grade : Master of Arts 2005

The Dead Sea situated -418m below the sea level, is known as the lowest point on earth. Since the last four decades the lake owes its precarious state to the exploitation of its natural resources. Created by the same shift of tectonic plates that formed the SyrianAfrican Rift Valley several millions years ago, the saltiest sea contains one of the world’s most complex ecosystems and is fed by fresh water springs and aquifers. However, due to national water policies, great part of the fresh water does not reach the Dead Sea and is unsustainably managed for agricultural, tourist and industrial purposes, as mineral extraction and bottling mineral water. The Dead Sea is shrinking and as it recedes the fresh water aquifers along its shores are receding along with it. The result is the threatening sinkholes phenomenon that generated a halt in the regional development during the last decade. The Dead Sea supplies raw materials for mineral industry, and is a key national and international tourist attraction. Both industries are a natural environment for a conflict : industrial development vs. tourism and both vs. the environment. The present study will examine the history of development plans suggested for the western Dead Sea shore since the last four decades. Two phases of the planning process attempt to illustrate the evolution of the applied approaches. The aim is to assess the level of environmental awareness during the planning process and its implementation. The examination will include industrial and tourism master plans confronted with the approach of the national scale and involved authorities. Findings indicate that environmental degradation, conflict between industry and tourism ; conservation vs. development, water scarcity, unsustainable water and wastewater management and demographic problems are the major difficulties in the area. At present, public interest is focused on the uncertainty regarding the future of the Dead Sea and its environs. Alternatives are considering a multilateral colossal project in order to stabilize the Dead Sea water level by means of a seawater conduit from the Red to the Dead Sea. Though, complexity and costs of the project generate doubt on its feasibility. There is little research, which survey and assess the planning process of the Dead Sea region since the beginning of its development. Recently, the Interim Policy Report for the future of the Dead Sea became the only existent document that examines the current trends taking place in the Dead Sea region and might be the base for a future statutory master plan for the Dead Sea shore. Subjects related to the decline in the water level of the Dead Sea and its implications are discussed at different levels of government in Israel : national, regional and local. However, permanent disagreement among authorities and lack of decisionmaking at all levels, suggest that a framework is needed to provide coordination between the different scales of planning in order to achieve permanent solutions. An innovative planning approach is required to maximize the potential of the Dead Sea basin, within a balance between conservation and development. Permanent solutions are needed in order to enable the continuance of the main tourist sites of the Dead Sea, and to protect them from sinkhole development and raising water level of industrial evaporation ponds. Thus, further research and methods are still required to deal with these complex processes that threaten the existing infrastructures and land uses. Governmental support and updated planning policies are essential to cope with the drastic and dynamic changes that are occurring to date in the basin and that are expected to continue for the next decades.

Mots Clés : Environmentally sensitive areas — Dead Sea Region (Israel and Jordan) — Landscape protection — -Salt lake ecology — Environmental conditions

Présentation (BGU )

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Page publiée le 10 janvier 2012, mise à jour le 26 novembre 2018