Benjamin Kahn: A TIME Magazine Hero

After all the hoopla around Nobel Prize winner Al Gore, we decided to find an environmental winner of our own over here in Israel.

We didn't have to look far.

This week TIME Magazine rolled out its own list of green heroes and among them was Benjamin Kahn - named as one of TIME magazine's 45 'Heroes of the Environment'.

Kahn's voice has had a resonant effect across Israel. He is the founding father of environmental coastline watchdog organization Zalul.

After studying marine biology and living in the US and Australia for a number of years, Kahn returned to Israel in 2000 and was shocked to discover that the amazing coral reef had drastically deteriorated - the result of years of human contact.

"I knew that if the reef was going to survive, someone had to fight for it," Kahn told TIME. Kahn commissioned marine-park scientists to come up with new ways of helping coral recover. He started a project in which he and other divers collect reef fragments that have broken off in stormy weather, and then give them to 5,000 school kids to grow like saltwater saplings for months in classroom tubs. Then divers carefully glue the living fragments back onto the reef.

This is just one of the projects. Through Zalul, Kahn has also won a major environmental victory in Eilat. After years of demonstrations and legal battles, Zalul helped force giant fish farms built in 1997 out of the gulf.

These cages were eliminating tons of uneaten food and excrement onto the reef. Following the five-year campaign, the Israeli government passed a resolution in 2005 to gradually force companies to remove them - a third of the cages each year - until 2008.

Heroic enough?

::Israel21c

Tags: Coral Reefs | Israel

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