دعوة افتتاح

دعوة افتتاح

Cultural Heritage Project

Palestine’s rich human and natural history is due to geography and geology. That is why it is a key part of the Fertile Crescent where humans first developed agriculture. Traditional agriculture was sustainable as Palestinian ancestors (Canaanites) managed to cultivate an enormous variety of plants from wheat, barley, lentils, chickpeas, hawthorn, carobs, pistacia, and olives depending mostly on rainfall (Baal agriculture). But they also developed terracing and irrigation systems that were amazingly resilient with some functioning terraces and dykes used for the past 5000 years. Associated with all these were cultural heritage that is remarkable and unique.

The Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability and the Palestine Museum of Natural History at Bethlehem University (PalestineNature.org) in partnership with Masar Ibrahim is launching a project that focuses on innovative ways for the protection and preservation of specific forms of the Palestinian cultural heritage: those related to the natural history and agriculture of Palestine. Project Coordinator, project co-coordinator and six researchers (two in northern, two in middle and two in southern West Bank) have started working hard to collect specific forms of cultural heritage including: a) tangible assets like tools, implements, traditional bee hives, farming equipment, native seeds, farmer’s cloths, old books and ledgers, heirloom seeds of plant varieties, artistic objects made from plants and animal products among others; and b) intangible assets like knowledge and practices connected to the land, stories, anecdotes, proverbs, and life practices relating to land, nature and agriculture. Both tangible and intangible cultural heritage of this type is under threat (threats discussed below). We will research, educate about and also create a section in our nascent Palestine Museum of Natural History that will includes sociology of village life, and the traditional cultural expression (tangible and intangible heritage related to agriculture and nature).

This project is funded by the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. It has strong support in the local population (including Ministry of Tourism). The population is struggling to protect this indispensable heritage due to the ongoing occupation activities such as removal from the land, increased refugee population, gentrification, and deterioration of the natural environment.

There is now a dedicated website to receive input and search fpor intangible cultural heritage: http://turathna.palestinenature.org and there is an opening of the physical exhibit on 30 April at 10 AM – Noon and we cordially invite you:

We welcome support: time, money, in-kind donations (e.g. of old heritage items), ideas, books, old literature etc are most welcome. email us at info@palestinenature.org

Exploring Mammals

An explorer grant from National Geographic is allowing researchers at the Palestine Museum of Natural History at Bethlehem University to collect unique data on mammals in a World Heritage Site. Al-Makhrour Valley in South Jerusalem hills of Palestine was globally recognized for its unique topography and ancient agricultural practices including water-distribution systems and stone terraces in use for thousands of years. A project funded by National Geographic and with additional support from the Darwin Initiative seeks to study the unique fauna and flora and ensure sustainability of both human and other living communities in this spectacular valley. The initial work is already producing good results. For example, using an echolocation devise, we surveyed the bat fauna of the valley and already recorded ten known and two unknown species (representing one fruit bat and 11 insectivorous bats). Of the ten identified species so far, some are rather rare (e.g. Taphozous perfratus) or recorded for the first time (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) in the occupied Palestinian territories. We also used camera traps and recorded larger mammals including gazelles, hyenas, foxes, jackals, hyrax, and wild cats.  The data being collected by our team of researchers in this very special valley will be analyzed and used in education campaigns for the local Palestinian communities bordering the valley as we also stimulate local economy through plans for ecotourism and maintenance of traditional agricultural practices.

Accomplishments and call for support

We did a lot of service to our people and our environment with your support and the support of many local and international volunteers last year. For a link to our annua;l report for 2017, please click to download this PIBS_PMNH ANNUAL REPORT 2017  . We are so proud of these accomplishments and think we can do even better in 2018 WITH YOUR SUPPORT. We are calling for  donors (of money or in kind donations), volunteers, and activists.

To volunteer https://www.palestinenature.org/support-us/volunteer/
To donate https://www.palestinenature.org/donations


Research: Serving Palestine and the scientific community, we published over 25 research papers in three years in areas ranging from genotoxicity to biodiversity of various groups of animals (ranging from scorpions, snails, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals), to museology (museum science), to environmental justice issues, to environmental education. This is applied and collaborative research that helps accomplish our other goals of education and conservation and elevates Palestine’s name in international scientific standing. See this short video on activities in research and other areas https://youtu.be/BPhFLOsEIM0 and for a sampling of research papers, see https://www.palestinenature.org/research/

Palestine Sunbird photo taken by Dr. Anton Khalilieh

Education: We hosted dozens of schools, did workshops educating our youth on areas like reducing waste, recycling, composting, respecting nature, biodiversity, critical thinking, science, anthropology, ecotourism, and more.  We also worked with university students and faculty not just at our own Bethlehem University but also at other universities in Palestine and abroad. You can see our education table and display board down below. We also held workshops ranging from taxidermy to math in nature to recycling. We are working on establishing a new interdisciplinary bachelor degree in under the auspices of the Faculty of Science and Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability at Bethlehem University. Mentored graduate and undergraduate students at Bethlehem University and three other Palestinian universities (PPU, HU, BZU) on senior thesis and graduate research. Many won top awards (for example students in architecture at PPU for design of new PMNH building). See this video on educational program https://youtu.be/AZOoOzXU7tQ  (Arabic and English)

Conservation and sustainability: We built new models of sustainability including in composting, aquaponics, biogas, rain harvesting, solar energy (covering all our needs and more), organic gardening, solar electricity, and more. We transferred knowledge to farmers and agriculture engineers, for example 12 who came from Gaza and learned aquaponics. We worked with Environmental Quality Authority to create a management plan for Wadi Al-Quff protected area and are working now on a similar plan for Wadi Al-Zarqa al-Ulwi near Salfit. The Environmental Impact Unit of PIBS did consulting work with a number of local and international institutions on issues of conservation and education.

Community Service: We worked closely with three local universities, five governmental agencies (e.g. Environmental Quality Authority, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Education), private schools, and four Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs). For many of those we signed official memoranda of understanding (MOUs) and for others worked via official letters. Served the community in many other ways like working with school environmental clubs, donating labor, material and supplies, planting trees, helping farmers etc. Over two dozen joint projects were implemented including supervising student work at universities, helping on conservation projects, helping local farmers, planting trees in dangerous areas near Israeli built walls and settlements, harvesting olives with farmers, local school education.  We had more than 3150 visitors and community beneficiaries in the last six months.

Other: Built an international network of supporters with over 30,000 who now receive weekly emails relating to issues of environment (including environmental justice), life in Palestine and more. We received over 200 international volunteers and over 1500 international visitors since founding the museum and PIBS (since 2014).

Video on volunteering with us https://youtu.be/APxvAZh8qrQ

According to scholar.google.com Professor Qumsiyeh’s scientific publications received 4507 citations, 1335 citations since 2012 (as of 23/11/2017)

According to another database ResearchGate (https://www.researchgate.net ) the citations for 141 publications as of 23/11/2017 reached 4345 citations.

Prof. Qumsiyeh (Volunteer Director) has also a significant popular impact. He has an email list of >48,000 followers. A simple google search for ‘Mazin Qumsiyeh’ yields 211,000 hits and for the ‘Palestine Museum of Natural History’ (founded and directed without compensation by Prof. and Mrs. Qumsiyeh since 2014) yields 626,000 hits.

We love you and we NEED YOU!!

To volunteer https://www.palestinenature.org/support-us/volunteer/

To donate https://www.palestinenature.org/support-us/donate/

We thank you and wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, and productive holiday season!

Six months accomplishments

The last six months’ accomplishments for the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability (PIBS) and Palestine Museum of Natural History (PMNH) at Bethlehem University: Remarkable growth in areas of research, education, and conservation with limited material and human resources (volunteers, students, and very few employees).

1-Introduced new modules of sustainability education such as biogas, food forest, and composting

2-Installation and operation of solar panels

3-Published seven scientific papers and eight other articles (bringing much visibility to Bethlehem University). See partial listing below.

4-Worked on establishing the educational component of the PIBS (new bachelor degree in Sustainability at BU)

5-The Environmental Impact Unit of PIBS did consulting work with a number of local and international institutions on issues of conservation and education.

6-Carried out two trips to network and raise some funds (raised roughly $20,000 in US trip and 4000 in UK trip), other donations received including commitment to fund part of our new green museum and institute buildingfrom the Munib R Masri Family Foundation ($400,000 from $1 million need)

7-Submitted six grant proposals/funding requests and received three (two pending)!

8-Signed memoranda of understanding with two universities and two NGOs and helped with MOU between BU and Silk Road initiative (all need follow-up)

9-Represented BU on meeting at Ministry of Education on Horizon2020 and on the Higher Council for Innovation and Excellence among others

10-Mentored graduate and undergraduate students at Bethlehem University and three other Palestinian universities (PPU, HU, BZU) on senior thesis and graduate research. Many won top awards (for example students in architecture at PPU for design of new PMNH building).

11-Served the community in many other ways like working with school environmental clubs, donating labor, material and supplies, planting trees, helping farmers etc. Also building a famly of people working together built life-long friendships of volunteers and interns (e.g. our gathering for a memorial for our departed friend Qavi was very special)

12-Professor Qumsiyeh traveled to two countries (USA and UK) and gave over 55 talks at key institutions (Smithsonian, Houston Natural Science Museum, Oxford U, Leeds U, Warwick U), churches, and community centers with over 1200 individuals benefitting.

13-More than 3150 visitors and beneficiaries in those six months:

-Hosted 12 school delegations from 11 Palestinian communities with over 500 students attending
-Hosted 15 other local and regional delegations (professors, common people etc) with over 350 attending
-Hosted 17 International delegations from over 24 countries with over 550 individual
-Attended 11 workshops and conventions networking with at least 120 individuals
-Carried out 8 workshops for schools and communities in the Salfit region benefitting over 400 people
-Hosted 8 interns and over 35 volunteers  (local and international)

We can do a lot more with your support.
To volunteer https://www.palestinenature.org/support-us/volunteer/
To donate https://www.palestinenature.org/support-us/donate/
To learn more via short videos:
https://youtu.be/BPhFLOsEIM0 (general video)
https://youtu.be/APxvAZh8qrQ (on volunteering)
https://youtu.be/AZOoOzXU7tQ (on our educational program)

Recent Publications (partial list)

Qumsiyeh, MB amd EN Handal. Beauty in (bio)diversity. This week in Palestineisse 232, August, pp.84-86

Qumsiyeh, MB Animal Biodiversity in Palestine. Bethlehem University Magazine, 25(1):12.

Qumsiyeh, MB. 2017. Nature and Resistance in Palestine. Active Arab Voices

Handal, Elias N. 2017. First record of Deroplax silphoides from the West Bank – Palestine. Entomologia Hellenica 26 (2017): 13-16

Abusarhan, M, ZS Amr, M Ghattas, EN Handal and MB  Qumsiyeh. 2017. Grasshoppers and Locusts (Orthoptera: Caelifera) from the Palestinian Territories at the Palestine Museum of Natural History. Zoology and Ecology

Abualia, K, R. Saeed, and M.B. Qumsiyeh. 2017. Environmental education and awareness for behavioral change in a developing country under the stresses of occupation. Pacific Ecologist. In press

Kilani A, K. Abualia, and MB Qumsiyeh. 2017. Incidence and types of chromosome abnormalities in a cohort of leukemic patients in the occupied Palestinian Territories. Submitted

Qumsiyeh. MB and Amr, ZS. 2017. Protected Areas in the Occupied Palestine Territories. Jordan Journal of Natural History, Vol 3, In press

Qumsiyeh, M.B. 2017. Fauna of Wadi Al-Quf: Invertebrates. Jordan Journal of Natural History, Volume 3, In Press

Qumsiyeh, M.B. 2017.Fauna of Wadi Al-Quf: Amphibians, Reptiles and Mammals. Jordan Journal of Natural History, Volume 3, In Press

Khalilieh, A. 2017.Fauna of Wadi Al-Quf: Birds. Jordan Journal of Natural History, Volume 3, In Press

Sawalha, Samir S., Asad Ramlawi, Ramzi M. Sansur, Ibrahim Mohammad Salem, and Zuhair S. Amr. 2017. Diversity, ecology, and seasonality of sand flies (Diptera: Psychodidae) of the Jenin District (Palestinian Territories). Journal of Vector Ecology 42 (1): 120-129

Qumsiyeh, Mazin, Anton Khalilieh, Issa Musa Albaradeiya, and Banan Al-Shaikh 2017. Biodiversity Of Wadi Al-Quf Area, Occupied Palestinian Territories: Challenges And Opportunities. Jordan Journal of Natural History, Volume 3, In Press

Qumsiyeh, MB and EN Handal. Revisiting adaptive nature of chromosome evolution in placental mammals. Cytologia

Qumsiyeh, MB 2017. Nature museums and botanical gardens for environmental conservation in developing countries. Bioscience

Qumsiyeh, MB and Amr, ZS. 2017. Protected Areas in the Occupied Palestine Territories. Jordan Journal of Natural History, Vol 3, In press

Qumsiyeh, MB, E Handal, J Chang, K Abualia, M Najajreh, M Abusarhan 2017. Role of museums and botanical gardens in ecosystem services in developing countries: Case study and outlook. Intl J Env Studies. 74(2): 340-350.

Adawi, S.H., Qasem, K.R., Zawahra, M.M. and Handal, E.N., 2017. On some Records of Dragonflies (Insecta: Odonata: Anisoptera) from the West Bank (Palestine). Jordan Journal of Biological Sciences (JJBS), 151.


From Brother Peter (Vice Chancelor): “Congratulations on the opening ceremony on Wednesday. I thought the whole event went very well. There was a relaxed atmosphere during which some important issues were addressed and visitors had the opportunity to see that, as I said, it was more than an opening, rather a celebration of what you have achieved since 2014. I think it achieved the goal of alerting people to what the museum has done and is doing and several people I spoke to were in awe of what you and your team and volunteers have accomplished. Many spoke to me about how impressed they were with the way the volunteers engaged with them and the ease with which they were able to speak about what they were responsible for. It is a credit to your commitment and vision that you and Jessie have been able to entice so many people to become involved in this project which has such potential to educate people to the wonder of the natural environment and engage these people in the protection of that environment here in Palestine. I think you should be very pleased with the way people responded to what you made available to them and very proud of the people with whom you have worked.”

Here is a video of the opening

2016 Christmas Message

Holiday message from PMNH-BU

Endangered Bethlehem Star Flower at PMNH

The Palestine Museum of Natural History (PMNH) and Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability at Bethlehem University wish you a great holiday season and wishing you and yours a wonderful new year. May 2017 be a year of progress towards peace and sustainability for our planet. Thanks to your partnership and donations, we had a tremendous success in 2016 fulfilling its mission to research, educate about, and conserve our natural world, culture and heritage and use knowledge to promote responsible human interactions with our environment.  We are now going to a higher level and ask you for your donations and support in kind and volunteerism so please watch the short film of our activities here https://youtu.be/BPhFLOsEIM0 and share it then visit this link to donate: https://www.palestinenature.org/support-us/ and this link to volunteer https://www.palestinenature.org/support-us/volunteer/.

With your support, we did a lot already:

a) Published two dozen papers in areas ranging from taxonomic studies to biodiversity to environmental pollution to museology (see https://www.palestinenature.org/research/ ).
b) Held workshops and other educational events that benefitted over 3,000 individuals.
c) Developed webpage (palestinenature.org) and social media accounts and reached out via the internet to tens of thousands of people
d) Established mobile conservation projects in remote and underprivileged communities.
e) Improved science education at both school and university level benefitting hundreds of students via hands-on workshops and creation of environmental clubs.
f) Developed an environmental impact assessment (EIA) unit and contributed to a management plan for the first OPT protected area.
g) Provided consultancy services to the nascent Palestinian governmental agencies (e.g. Ministry of Health, Environmental Quality Authority, Ministry of Tourism, and Ministry of Agriculture).
h) Transformed a neglected 12 dunum area (part of the Bethlehem University Mar Andrea Campus) into a nascent botanical garden and permaculture facility (including bee-keeping, aquaponics, and aquaculture). This site was used to develop ideas which are now being transferred to farmers and other members of the community (e.g. green walls and composting).


With your support, we can do much more. Our five year plan (2017-2021), considering includes:

1) Build a Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability to offer trainings, diplomas, and even higher degrees.
2) Raise enough financial resources to ensure sustainability including a green building of 2000 square meter.
3) Research: a) To complete and publish 30 major research projects in diverse areas (from agriculture to fauna to flora to environmental impact to genetics), b) To have functional research units such as cytogenetics, entomology, and herpetology.
4)  Human Resources (HR) and administration: a) develop staff and have by end of five years  three full time researchers, Administrative director, Project manager, education specialist, 2 garden workers, IT person, publicity/media person, and secretary/guide , b) to have at least 200 committed volunteers willing to help the museum (local and international), c) seamless internal operation and an oversight board of people who actually help the museum have administrative sustainability, d) By end of five year have revenues exceed or at least cover all expenses (financial sustainability)
5) Garden: To developed in the garden composting center, medicinal and herbal plants, terracing in the eastern and northern areas, fix the septic system, issue, and build a new cistern.
6) Education:  a) To developed a 7 indoor exhibits and 7 outdoor exhibits (all interactive) b)  To do minimum 6 workshops each year in diverse areas, for the five years a total > 30 workshops, c) host minimum 10,000 students over the five year period
7) Conservation: a) Study 3 protected areas with same level of intensity as done for Wadi Quff (6 publications), b) Develop a team of citizens (focusing on youth) for environmental conservation.
8) Publicity and Media Work: a) Every week we need to have at least one media appearance (newspapers, TV, radio etc.), b) have a functioning “friends of..” groups in many countries and cities that help fundraise and bring other support like networking etc., c) museum website and social media activities seamlessly integrated with the university’s other publicity, d) expand roster of museum brochures and videos focused on students.

Some achievement details for last year are shown here:
https://www.palestinenature.org/achievements-20152016/ But none of this will continue or grow without your support so please visit this link to donate: https://www.palestinenature.org/support-us/ and this
link to volunteer https://www.palestinenature.org/support-us/volunteer/

aDSCN9311 untitled-1

With best wishes to you and yours

Mazin, Jessie, Elias, Mohammad N, Mohammad A, Zuhair, Khawla, Reena, Mubarak, and all other volunteers


We will start to issue a newsletter of happenings at the museum mostly with photos. Here are some of the news from the museum 1-10 September. But if you want to see more and on a daily or nearly daily basis, please join our facebook page under Palestine Museum of Natural History. Anyway here are some happenings

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Revien (a voluntreer) places a book on the book scanner invented and donated by Dany Qumsiyeh and next to newer exhibit areas (note large photos and more)


Majd Salsaa Donated a fruit and vegetable drier


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Visit and “Zarb” food for Rotary Bethlehem and Sweden

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Recycling and making soap workshop (facilitation: Suha and Majd; sponsor: Culture of resistance)

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Injured mongoose and tortoises mating


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and growth continues (of plants, animals, and humans)

We also had many visits (delegations from Canada, Norway, US, England, Cyprus, Spain, and more)

Visit us or Join us by emailing info@palestinenature.org or cal 02-2773553

You can also donate at http://palestinenature.org/donate


Achievements 2015/2016

Research: Over 20 research publication in the first two years of operations and most of them in 2016. You can see the titles and download directly many of them, see: research

untitled-1 MEDIA work and communications

Produced two high quality videos relating to our work: one directed towards volunteers (Arabic and English https://youtu.be/APxvAZh8qrQ) and one more general to get support (English https://youtu.be/BPhFLOsEIM0, Arabic https://youtu.be/uMQ9Rs85CjQ , French https://youtu.be/vgezJBikuDI )

We produced a brochure for the museum and a booklet on birds of Palestine.

We contributed several articles to a special issue of This Week in Palestine magazine with the theme “Animals in Palestine” receiving high publicity.

Dr. Qumsiyeh published over a dozen articles on issues relating to Palestine and the Environment. Examples:

Qumsiyeh, Mazin 2015. People’s Resistance in Palestine. Review of “Popular Protest in Palestine: The uncertain future of unarmed resistance” by Marwan Darweish and Andrew Rigby, Pluto Press, London. Journal of Holy Land and Palestine Studies. 14.2 (2015): 227–234.

Qumsiyeh, Mazin. Forward to the German edition of Simha Flapan’s “Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities”. Zambon Verlag, Frankfurt/Main, 2015

Qumsiyeh, MB. 2016. Arab-American Activism for Palestine. Chapter in Proceedings of Conference on the Palestinian Diaspora held August 2015 in Bethlehem. Published by Diyar Consortium and Dar AnNadwa. in Press 2016.

Conferences and workshops organized


-Workshop on Soap making and Recycling glass 10 September 2016
-Workshop on GIS systems 14 July 2016
-Workshop on Water and natural resource management 2 April 2016
-Peacebuilding in the Holy Land: Strategizing Our Popular Resistance, Bethlehem, Palestine 4-7 November 2015
-Workshop on Making Scorpions Using Recycled Wires 14 July 2015
-Workshop on Water Innovation and Project Development 15 June 2015
-Workshop on Peace Gardens and Trauma Relief 24 May 2015
-Workshop on Need for Museum in Palestine 23 April 2015
-Workshop on Beekeeping April 2015
-Workshop on Mushrooms 24 March 2015
-Workshop on Geology and Paleontology 31 March 2015
-Environmental Quality Authority and school students’ environment day at the museum. 30 March 2015
-Workshop on Cancer 3 March 2015
-Workshop on Research Methodology and Ethics 27 January 2015
-Workshop on Taxidermy December 2014


September 2016-April 2017. Empowering Youth in Environmental Stewardship. American Consulate General in Jerusalem.

September 2016-February 2017. Models of sustainability at Bethlehem University. Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI).

June-August 2016. Environmental Conservation and protected areas in Palestine: Challenges and Opportunities. The Hanns Seidel Foundation (Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung), Report available xii+159 pp.

June 2016 Culture of Resistance grant for workshops on Sumud and sustainable living.

December 2015 French Consulate General in Jerusalem (Consulat General de France à Jerusalem).

2015-2016 TELECANTHUS and Masar Ibrahim for developing panels for the ecotourism path that stretches from northern areas of the West Bank to the south.

2015-2016 ERASMUS mobility grant Sienna University in Italy with us at Bethlehem University for exchange of Scholars.

2015 Palestinian American Research Council (PARC) funding for exchange between Museum fur Naturkunde, Berlin and the Palestine Museum of Natural History.

2015 Telemachus Foundation To Empower The Poor And End War (pilot project for biodiversity/permaculture in Jordan Valley)

2015/2016 Many individual donations.

2015/2016 Many donations in-kind including portable water filtration system from Japan, aquaponics set-up from GIZ, books, binoculars, specimens, etc.

Most significant successes


1) Published several research papers (on things ranging from environmental health to biodiversity to museology, to reptiles, to butterflies, and more)

2) Initiated a botanical garden with an integrated water and land ecosystem

3) Started permaculture including beekeeping and aquaponics systems (production, research, and knowledge transfer)

4) Started an educational program including hosting science festivals that benefited hundreds of school students

5) Hosted hundreds of local and international visitors who gained knowledge of local challenges and opportunities

6) Built partnerships with local and global governmental and non-governmental entities resulting in benefit to environment and sustainability

7) Developed databases and other resources including collections, photo library, digital library, local biodiversity database, and a seed bank. We now have an integrated system for research, education, and conservation to address areas in need in Palestine,

8) Developed an Environmental Impact Assessment Unit.

9) Became a magnet for students from several universities in Palestine

Most significant challenges

Getting overwhelmed (too many projects, few resources and individuals)

Organizational: Implementation difficulties and projects and activities taking more time than anticipated, not matching our resources with our needs and growth, too fast growth or two slow growth not matching Human Resources and “reality” of our own human limitations

Matching growth in need and demand reliable sources of funding AND to growth of human resources.

Maintaining and enhancing university administration support

2016-2017 goals


  1. Environmental Education: We have two funded projects for school outreach plus a small funded project for workshops, develop educational modules etc.
  2. Environmental Conservation: Expand our consultancies on environmental and biodiversity issues,
  3. Double our research output
  4. Build Capacity: Doubling our volunteer and employee base and better training of all staff and volunteers
  5. Develop exhibit areas and have opening by early spring 2017
  6. Find funding and plan green museum building

Achievements First Year

First Annual Report


According to survey that Qumsiyeh and Isaac did for UNESCO and the Ministry of Higher Education in 2012, Research & Development in Palestine suffers from significant obstacles but has certain potentials and possibilities for improvement. Particularly deficient R&D areas include biodiversity, agriculture, and healthcare (including environmental issues affecting human health). We need research, we need education, and we need active intervention to conserve our nature and to for sustainable development. The Palestine Museum of Natural History (PMNH) and the Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability (PIBS) were established at Bethlehem University to research, educate about, and conserve our natural world and our Palestinian culture and heritage, and to use this knowledge to promote responsible, empowered human interactions with all components of our environment

The university provided us initially 12 dunums of land and 800 square meters of indoor space and $45000 for infrastructure improvements. Professor and Mrs. Qumsiyeh donated $250,000 to be delivered over 4 years (2014-2018). Much was accomplished including refurbishing and remodeling existing rooms and structuring landscape. We have also built a pool and an aviary. We spent on some projects like the science festival that accommodated hundreds of school children to do experiments (20-29 November 2014). We also did and continue to do significant biodiversity research and documentation of Palestinian fauna and flora as well as human impact on the environment. The initial finances also allowed us to begin to do permaculture systems on site. Much more remains to be done. We have dozens of volunteers but we have substantial financial needs required to go to the next levels in the many existing projects and new projects.

Vision: Our vision is to arrive at an informed and involved society living in healthy sustainable environment that is safe for all living things

Mission: Our mission is to research, educate about, and conserve our natural world and our Palestinian culture and heritage, and to use this knowledge to promote responsible, empowered human interactions with all components of our environment.


1) Started and developed the museum (PMNH) so that it is now a functioning institution and involved in research, education and conservation. We received visitors including students, researchers, volunteers, and community members. We have now two employees one for the botanical garden (Mohammad Najahreh)  and one research zoologist (Elias Handal). The (volunteer) director Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh taught and did research for many years at institutions including the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, University of Tennessee, Duke University, and Yale University. Since returning to Palestine in 2008 he has engaged in teaching, service, and research at Birzeit University, Al-Quds University, and Bethlehem University. The volunteer financial and administrative officer (Jessie Change) is certified public accountant. Dozens of other volunteers work at the museum.


2) Held a science festival that brought hundreds of school children and volunteers together for activities such as experiments and discussions on topics ranging from critical thinking to physics to environmental protection.


3) Published significant research with high impact . Examples include “Decline in Vertebrate Biodiversity of Bethlehem,” “Genotoxic effects of Israeli Industrial settlements”, fauna (biodiversity) in the Wadi Al-Quf area the first Palestinian-administered protected area, two research papers on scorpions, one on amphibians, and one on butterflies.  We had also established a research and service clinical cytogenetics lab for cancers, infertility, and congenital birth defects. Currently we have ongoing research projects by master’s-degree students, undergraduate students, and volunteers, on various topics including ethnology; early education; biodiversity of arachnids, grasshoppers, snails, bats, and other animals; genotoxic effects of computer recycling in Idhna; effect of the apartheid wall on water and other natural resources;  study of medicinal plants; research on best educational methods for reaching school children with ideas of environmentalism and self-empowerment (such as critical thinking, questioning attitude, etc), and much more.
4) Worked intensely on our land site to both reclaim and create an integrated ecosystem of endogenous Palestinian animals and plants, in an attractive setting. We also began to develop permaculture and aquaculture.


5) Held over a dozen workshops including on such areas as Scorpions (14 July 2015),  water innovation and project development (15 June 2015), Peace Gardens and Trauma Relief (24 May 2015), Museums in Palestine (23 April 2015), bee keeping (April 2015),  Mushrooms (24 March 2015),  geology and paleontology (31 March 2015), environment day at the museum (30 March 2015), Cancer (3 March 2015), Research Methodology and Ethics (27 January 2015), Taxidermy (December 2014).
6) Began to rehabilitate some injured and abandoned animals, mostly wild.

7) Began recycling and upcycling waste material.

8) Expanded our digital library for fauna and flora.
9) Expanded our digital photo collection.

10) Undertook partnership with many organizations and government entities. For example: involved in preparing the 2015 national report on biodiversity in compliance with the Convention on Biologic Biodiversity (in cooperation with Environmental Quality Authority); with ministry of Agriculture for Also traveled to Europe and developed good working relationships with universities, individual scientists, and others planning student and faculty exchanges etc.
11) Raised some needed funds for work projects. Individual donations (mostly from Palestinians) for the first year was >$25,000. We also got two contracts for specific consulting work.
12) Carried out over 50 field trips in various parts of Palestine.  Over forty volunteers have worked at the Museum in various capacities such as agriculture, education, research, and conservation.
13) Media and Publicity: Developed a webpage (palestinenature.org), a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and published several articles about the Museum in major magazines such as “This Week in Palestine,” and in books such as Museums in Palestine. We were featured in several articles and we commissioned a film for encouraging volunteerism for the museum.

Botanical Garden plan 
Site map of the facilities and gardens as they exist today
We have 12 dunums (some 4 acres) of land that we rehabilitated the area not merely a botanical garden in the classic sense but an integrated ecosystem. This means having the land productive for all living things and an oasis of tranquility and model of human coexistence in harmony with nature. Already the garden has crabs, 17 species of butterflies, many species of water and land snails, four species of dragon flies, three species of frogs, three fish species, over 30 species of birds, mammals (from small mice, shrews, and bats up to a fox family), and many species of reptiles. In terms of plants both aquatic and terrestrial species are found including rare orchids and even the star of Bethlehem (endangered).

Star of Bethlehem

The pool that harvests rain water is used for both a wetland system (fish, dragonflies, frogs, aquatic plants) and as a nitrogen rich sources of water for plants in the summer. We already started bee keeping and use that as an educational system on importance of bees and other insects. We planted endogenous Palestinian trees in the garden successfully (over 10 species) and these will soon serve as educational center for agroforestry.

Our five goals for the second year of operation (academic year 2015/16)  are:
a) publish five research papers,
b) do five educational workshops,
c) develop five interactive exhibit areas (three indoors, two outdoors),
d) add five partners (governmental or non-governmental),
e) study five Palestinian geographic locations intensively.

The Museum now provides direct linkage and collaboration with Bethlehem University’s Cytogenetics Laboratory which was established by Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh. We also work closely with the M.S. program in biotechnology (Polytechnic and Bethlehem Univesrities) and the Biology Department at Bethlehem University and the new M.S. program in Environmental Science at Birzeit University. We have international collaborations with the Jordan University of Science and Technology (Irbid, Prof. Zuhair Amr), Berlin Museum Fur Naturkunde, Senckenberg Museum, Vienna MNH, Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (Amman, Jordan), Museum of Natural Sciences (Brussels), Jeunes Palestiniens en Chemin, Syracuse University (Syracuse, New York), and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (Washington, DC).  Locally, we have collaborative arrangements with the Palestinian Museum currently being built on the campus of Birzeit University, with the Palestine Center for Rapprochement Between People, with the A.M. Qattan Foundation (focused on education), Al-Rowwad Center in Aida Refugee Camp, and with local schools and other non-governmental organizations. These partnerships center on education for empowerment, including sustainable living and environmental work. Additional partnerships are being sought in order to increase our activities in other high-priority areas, particularly behavioral changes needed in society for a sustainable world.

Education and conservation through increased respect:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN 1948) states: “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.” Various other international conventions have been promulgated to protect the environment and ensure sustainability of natural resources. We believe the key to this process lies in human capacity; hence our goal to increase respect:  a) for ourselves (self-empowerment), b) for our fellow human beings, regardless of background, and c) for all living creatures and our shared earth. PMNH has embarked on an ambitious program not only to research and document nature around us but also to conserve and educate in the spirit of humanity living as part of an integrated balanced ecosystem. We have engaged in education at all levels in Palestinian society: elementary schools, secondary schools, undergraduate colleges, graduate schools, and the public at large. We consider our task as coaches to be facilitation of active learning—rather than “teaching” or “lecturing.”  We believe in the Chinese proverb “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.”
Much more can be done in our second year with your help: email us info@palestinenature.org

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