The Hula Valley
The Artists for Nature Foundation Project of The Hula Valley
About The Hula Valley
The Hula Valley is located at the northern edge of thee Great Rift Valley (GRV). The Vallley is nested within the northeastern finger of the upper Galilee in Israel, where the northern headwaters come together to form the mythical Jordan River. From here the river continues southward through Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee, 210 m below sea level) and down to the Dead Sea some 300 km away. At 400 m below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest land altitude on Earth. The Hula Valley is bordered to the north by Lebanon and to the northeast by Syria.
The Hula encompasses a rich blend of geological formations, diverse plant and animal species, and ancient human history. It is an oval-shaped valley, 25 km long and 4-8 km wide, formed about 4 million years ago, between the fault lines of the GRV. Covering an area of about 20,000 hectares, the valley slopes gently from 170 m above sea level in the north, to 65 m above sea level in the south. The tectonic features of the GRV determine its general outlines. The western mountainous margin rises some 400-900 m above sea level, and is built of Cretaceous sedimentary rock, while the eastern mountain range is a basaltic block that rises from 400 m above sea level up to the peak of Mount Hermon at 2,200 m. The soil deposits in the valley clearly show that the lake and swamp environment have been occupying the entire basin for at least the past 250,000 years.
Before being drained in the 1950s, the original lake and surrounding extensive marshes were the largest wetland habitat in the Middle East. Since the draining, there has been a slow but steady push to restore wetland habitats, including the Hula Nature Reserve and the Agamon Lake. Today these wetlands, along with the surrounding agriculture and native woodland hillsides, attract the greatest diversity and abundance of wildlife and birds found along the northern Great Rift Valley, among which are over 60 globally threatened plant and animal species. Much of this diversity is directly related to the site's location at the crossroads of Eurasia and Africa, where several bioregions overlap.
The Hula Valley wetlands are perched at the northern edge of the Saharan and zone and are therefore crucial for migratory birds stopping over on their way south in autumn, or on their way north in spring. Close to 400 species of birds have been observed here (over half of those found in Europe), with tens of thousands making this their winter quarters. Together with breeding and resident species, the avifauna also boasts tens of globally and nationally threatened species.