The Hula Reserve
The Hula valley – just north of the Kinneret Lake (Sea of Galilee) – has always been an important way station for migrating birds shuttling between Europe and Africa. Lake Hula and the surrounding swamps were once a habitat for many species of plants and animal, some rare and even endemic.
In 1951 Israel launched the Hula reclamation project. Its planner, whom vision was to turn these 23 square miles of lake and swamp into useful farming land, paid little regard to questions of nature preservation. Yet under pressure from scientists and nature lovers in Israel, who demanded that at least a small part of this lake and swamp landscape be preserved, the planners eventually agreed to allocate for this purpose some 790 acres of the lake's area. In 1964 this land was officially proclaimed as Israel's first nature reserve - the Hula Reserve. Representing most lake and swamp pre-reclamation habitats, it nevertheless irretrievably lost many species, including some of the endemic ones.
In the years since proclamation much effort has been made to maintain characteristic fauna and flora on the one hand, and to make the reserve accessible to visitors, on the other hand. Nature lovers now visiting the reserve enjoy well-developed footpaths, consisting in parts of catwalks above swampy areas, as well as bird watching sites, intended to leave the reserve's birds and animals undisturbed.
More than 200 species of birds may be seen in the reserve. Tens of thousands of birds, including cranes, storks, pelicans, cormorants, herons and egrets, live within the reserve, joined by huge flocks during migration seasons. In addition, various species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish, as well as rich vegetation, including some rare water plants, find the Hula reserve a unique sanctuary.
In the spring of 1994 an additional area of 247 acres was re-flooded, north of the extant reserve, representing another stage in the restoration of the Hula valley. Part of the turf soil exposed there during the original reclamation, having sunk down below its initial levels, was seasonally flooded by rainwater, which made it useless for farming. The newly created lake, following this re-flooding, was named "the Hula lakelet". It has rich fauna and flora, and species that were made extinct during reclamation are now being reintroduced there.
The stamp was issued in 2007. Designer: Tuvia Kurz.