The Ecological Garden was initiated and established in 1982 by the late Professor Zev Naveh and encouraged by Amos Horev, former IDF Major-General (res.) and Technion President at the time of inception. The garden was built on the former waste zone of the Technion, where chemical and other forms of waste were disposed of on its grounds. Professor Naveh managed to recruit Professor Ron Lovinger, a renowned landscape architect from the University of Oregon, to join the project’s small team of volunteers. Professor Lovinger often taught as a visiting lecturer at the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion. The garden was set-up for scientific purposes – in order to be able to research and test the suitability of regional plants and vegetation from other parts of the world, for the purposes of landscape restoration, based on ecological principles. The research gathered would address two central environmental issues in Israel – shortage of water and reduction of open spaces. The garden, which spans over roughly 5 acres, is located under the Ulman and Amado buildings, and between the Faculty of Agricultural Engineering and The Schulich Faculty of Chemistry. In 2010, the garden was declared a Botanical Garden, recognized and budgeted for by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Since its founding, the garden endured various incarnations and management:
The garden was under Shmuel Ben-Ezra’s management since its inauguration until 2001. It became part of his study program entitled “Plant Engineering,” within the framework of the Faculty of Agricultural Engineering, and served as an ecological laboratory for his joint research studies. Ben-Ezra assisted in choosing the plants to be planted in the garden, with the objective of combining Israeli vegetation (ground cover varieties, vines, shrubs, and trees) for landscape restoration, together with appropriate vegetation from abroad matching the criteria.
Under the management of Dr. Navah Sabar, between the years 2002-2005, the garden became very active and lively. New areas were set up in the garden (a spot for river plants and moist flora, and a water pool near a vined gazebo-like structure), and other parts were restored (the orchard, which characterizes traditional agriculture, irrigation ditches and more). The building in the center of the garden, which served as a classroom and as the garden’s official office, was rebuilt using green engineering techniques. In addition, the landscaping outside the building was redesigned. During the period when Dr. Naveh oversaw the garden, many schools from the area brought their pupils to learn about environmental aspects through a wide variety of activities.
Since the beginning of 2012, the management of the garden has been directed by Dr. Shay Levy, after a long period of neglect. The recovery of the garden required a great deal of resources, by which ecological methods are transformed from waste to beneficial resources, that set in motion a restorative process that has continued until today. In addition to the landscaping restoration development, which included nurturing trees and reducing risks of fire hazards (one of the most important studies carried out by the late Professor Naveh), restoring water bodies in the garden, the cultivation of rare and endangered plant species (species that would become the basis for restorative platforms in nature in the event of extinction), and the erection of a plot of vegetation that are especially beneficial to man (like medicinal herbs and spices), areas were constructed within the garden for the purposes of exhibiting plant life including varieties that are used as ground coverings, invader plants, and the like. The signage was also redone and more in-depth information was added about the varied vegetation in the garden (as well as additional explanations through the use of QR codes). In the future, there are plans for many new projects: the construction of an incubator for tropical plants (carnivorous plants, orchids, and the like), a study center on the subject of forest grove fire (the topic of Dr. Levy’s doctorate, who is presently serving as the director of the garden), a meteorological station to monitor air pollution, a green basin by which to demonstrate the use of plants for purifying graywater, and a great many other new developments. Recently, the garden has become a focal point for students from different faculties on campus, for academic activities taking place in the garden and as a place for recreation and relaxation between lectures. Among the regular visitors to the garden are a group of students from a school studying about plant growth in German, students from the “Taglit-Birthright” Project, students from the Haifa University, teachers enrolled in continuing education programs, and others. You are most welcome to come and pay a visit to our magical botanical garden, Technion’s little Garden of Eden.