Swifts of Bethlehem

Swifts of Bethlehem

The project is implemented in Bethlehem, in the most sacred place for Christians, the nativity church which for many centuries served as a perfect nesting site for migratory birds called the swifts. Countless swifts have been using the cracks in the ancient wall of the church and would return to it almost the same day every year. These birds are very special, they eat, drink and mate while flying, and a pair of them would eat 10000 insects per day, providing by that environmental and health service to humans. Unfortunately, all these cracks were completely closed in the last renovation in the church.

As a replacement, the Hanns Seidel Foundation with its Palestinian partners made a project in 2019 for installing 73 nesting boxes 500 meters away from the holy place, on a wall of a nearby school called Terra Sancta. Through the project, the students of the school and the scouts are involved in trainings about nature conservation 2019-currently. Each year they make a welcome ceremony to receive the swifts and maintain the nesting site.

The project succeeded and became an educational site for other students from all over Palestine to come and learn about it. The site will further grow as a bird-watching point and an attractive eco-tourism destination for domestic or inbound tourism and by that contribute to the local economic development of Bethlehem.

The stakeholders are involved, they gained knowledge about the importance of developing ecotourism sites economically and environmentally. In 2020, we implemented the first biodiversity exhibition in the nativity church square to raise environmental awareness of the community with our partner the Environment Quality Authority, and under the patronage of Prime Minister Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh.

Project Goal: it aims at raising awareness in the community about the importance of birds in maintaining environmental balance. Moreover, the idea intends to promote the area as an attractive tourist site for environmental conservation, as well as a symbol for conserving wildlife.

Project Partners: Palestine Society for Environment and Sustainable Development (Mr.Saed Shomaly), Environment Quality Authority, Terra Sancta School, and scouts. 

Brochure Language: Arabic

Video Language: English and Arabic

Year: 2019

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