Professors hope to overcome overgrazing in Jerusalem



    Two BYU professors along with a couple of BYU students are studying ways to make the desert in Jerusalem “blossom as a rose.” The researchers are conducting experiments that they hope will improve the environment in Jerusalem.

    Dr. Phil Allen and Dr. Bruce Roundy, of the College of Biology and Agriculture, along with two BYU students, have been studying how grazing animals in the area surrounding Jerusalem affect the environment of the area. The research is being done in correlation with similar research being done in Utah and Nevada deserts.

    For thousands of years a tribe called the Bedouins have been raising sheep and goats in areas surrounding Jerusalem. Until recently, no one paid much attention to the group, but now areas of Jerusalem are deforested.

    Allen, one of the professors at the head of the project, said that animals like sheep and goats contribute to the ecological downfall of land in Jerusalem. According to Allen, what is causing a change in the ecology of Jerusalem is that, “As the sheep and the goats graze, they consume seeds that would become plants and trees.”

    Allen also explained that the effects of the Bedouins grazing their animals in this manner have been upsetting to many in Jerusalem. Allen stated, “The people in Jerusalem are very concerned with their environment. They are starting to plant a lot of trees to try to help the environment.” Allen said many people in Jerusalem are upset with the Bedouin tribes and want them to stop the grazing.

    Student researchers in Jerusalem are currently collecting seeds and vegetation from areas that have already been subject to grazing. The seeds will be studied, as well as the condition of the soil in the area, to determine under what conditions seeds will best be able to grow.

    Allen said he hopes the research being conducted will improve the ecology of grazing land in Jerusalem and also preserve the wild lands of the area. He said the findings will also help in the research being conducted in Utah and Nevada because of the similarity of the climate.

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