PIBS at Bethlehem University Recognizes World Environment Day

world environement day

This year’s theme of the World Environment Day “land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience,” aligns with our mission and vision in Palestine. Through all our activities at the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability (PIBS), we emphasize that sustainable human and natural communities begin with each of us individually. 

Palestine faces significant environmental challenges caused by colonization, overexploitation, habitat destruction, pollution and invasive species. These not only affect our environment but also have profound implications for our agriculture, economy, and overall sustainability. 

PIBS implemented various strategies to combat desertification and enhance drought resilience while raising awareness about these and other critical issues. For instance, our botanical garden is designed as an educational module to demonstrate sustainable agricultural practices. We showcase techniques such as using opposite slopes to channel excess water into our ecological pond and building trenches between terraces to capture rainwater. Rosemary hedges stabilize the soil, and pebbles protect it from raindrop impact, highlighting effective water management strategies. Additionally, we harvest rainwater from our rooftop and demonstrate how to reuse gray water for irrigation. Our garden also features permaculture systems, including aquaponics, hydroponics, and wicking beds, which use less water and yield higher productivity than traditional agriculture. These elements provide live demonstrations of efficient and sustainable farming techniques.

We have conducted multiple workshops on these practices for diverse audiences, including school students, university students, local residents of Gaza, and farmers. For example, we worked with over 80 household farmers, introducing them to eco-friendly agriculture, which resulted in an average output increase of 31% while reducing costs by eliminating the need for chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

We are addressing this issue through one of our ongoing Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) project which evaluates two protected areas (PA’s). Through species conservation assessments, threat analyses, and community engagement, such projects contribute directly to land restoration efforts, addressing desertification and enhancing resilience against drought.

We actively engage in raising awareness about environmental issues through diverse channels such as social media posts, workshops, posters, videos, and other outreach initiatives. 

How can you, as an individual, play an active role in mitigating drought and desertification? There are several actions you can take to mitigate drought and desertification. Educate yourself about these issues, conserve water in your daily life, and spread awareness to your friends and family. Remember, change starts with each of us, and together, we can make a real difference in restoring our land and building resilience for the future.