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Chief of the USDA Forest Service Celebrates a Lasting Partnership with Israel
Earthquake at Daybreak: US Response to Humanitarian Crisis in Iran
The Lucky Thirteen:Managing Gabon's New National Parks
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Chief of the USDA Forest Service Celebrates a Lasting Partnership with Israel

In February 2004, USDA Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth visited Israel to celebrate the agency's 15 years of partnership with the Jewish National Fund and the Government of Israel. Initially focused on wildland fire management, the partnership now addresses forest, range, and watershed management challenges. Over the years, many scientists, natural resource managers and government representatives from both countries have participated in various activities, including technical assistance and training for Israeli foresters. The USDA Forest Service's Inventory and Monitoring Institute, with support from the International Programs Staff, administers and funds the program.

Chief Bosworth's visit coincided with Tu Bishvat, a festival similar to Arbor Day in the United States. Tu Bishvat celebrates the spring renewal of trees and symbolizes the strong Israeli connection to the land. To mark the occasion, Chief Bosworth joined Israeli President Moshe Katzav and Jewish National Fund World Chairman Yehiel Leket in planting an olive tree in Jerusalem.

Chief Bosworth also visited the sites of various collaborative projects, involving oak management, reforestation, afforestation, and gully control. The tour concluded with a visit to American Independence Park in Israel, where the Chief viewed a memorial dedicated to the 14 American firefighters who gave their lives on Storm King Mountain in 1994.


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Earthquake at Daybreak:US Response to Humanitarian Crisis in Iran
At daybreak on December 26, 2003, powerful tremors destroyed more than 85 percent of the buildings in Bam, a city in southeastern Iran. More than 30,000 people reportedly died, and 30,000 more were severely injured. Nearly 45,000 people were left homeless, a number swelled by 80 major aftershocks.

Soon after the earthquake, the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance sent an 81-person Disaster Assistance Response Team to Iran. According to the team, water and sanitation were among the most critical needs. The team helped Iran coordinate distribution of medical equipment and supplies such as blankets and winterized tents.

In the United States, a 15-person Response Management Team worked to deliver supplies requested by the team in Iran. Drawing on their experience with wildland fire emergency response, the USDA Forest Service and USDI Bureau of Land Management joined the humanitarian effort. With funding from the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, they provided trained personnel to support the teams in the United States and Iran.


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The Lucky Thirteen:Managing Gabon's New National Parks
After the Amazon rainforest, the Congo Basin rainforest is the largest contiguous tract of moist tropical forest in the world. Stretching across central Africa, it is home to the world's largest populations of lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, and forest elephants. Eighty percent of plants in the Congo Basin live nowhere else. More than 60 million people live in the Congo Basin, many of them forest dependent.

In August 2002, to help protect its rich biodiversity from commercial logging and hunting, Gabon established 13 national parks covering 11 percent of its forested land area. The USDA Forest Service is working with Gabon to build capacity for managing the new parks. In June 2003, with funding from the Central African Regional Program for the Environment, technical experts from the USDA Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service visited Gabon's Loango National Park to help develop a model park management plan. The team also identified needs for building park staff capacity.

In March 2004, a second USDA Forest Service team traveled to Gabon to continue developing the park management plan. In addition, the USDA Forest Service and its partners will conduct a workshop on landscape planning in spring 2004. Trainees will include staff from the Gabonese National Park Service and Gabon's Ministry of Water and Forests.


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