Is Israel's Brutia pine an invasive species or a native in the Eastern Mediterranean region?
Brutia pine (Pinus brutia) distribution region is in the north east of the Mediterranean basin and its south most distribution is south Lebanon. It is one of the main species in the planted forests of Israel. Its invasiveness and its use in plantation is disputed. Our questions were: (1) whether Brutia pine is an alien species, (2) has it a colonization potential? If the two questions will be positive, than the species can be invasive The first question examined by comparing vegetation maps to geological maps, meteorological data, review of habitat researches, and the outcome of the distance between native and planted population. The second question examined by article review, foresters and forest engineers interviews, and field surveys. The results show that Brutia pine is native in the region of Lebanon and Israel in the eastern Mediterranean basin. The Galilee region is partly in Israel and partly in Lebanon, and natural population of the species grow adjacent to this region. Lebanese natural Brutia pine population exist only 45 km from the Israeli border, and 55 km from natural population of Pinus halepensis in Israel. Both pines grow on similar habitats. I argue that South Lebanon and the Mediterranean zone in Israel are actually one region with the same climate, similar geological formations, similar distance to the shore, and mountain ridges with North-South direction proximity. In the Mediterranean basin scale, this region (200 km in its length) is more likely determined as local. International boundaries do not play a role in this case. In addition, Brutia pine is not a colonizer tree in Israel. Germination and recruitment happens in the forests, but hardly outside of its borders. The seeds are relatively heavy and usually fall near the mother tree. In conclusion, Brutia pine is a native tree, not a colonizing one, and therefore is not an invasive tree.
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brutia pine, forest, invasive, native, nir herr, pinus brutia