Natural Resources Survey
Principal Findings

A. General
The following were observed during the survey: seventy-nine species of flora, seven species of arthropods, one species of mollusk, three species of mammals, twenty-nine species of birds and four species of reptiles.
The inventory of fauna and flora on the city wall depends on a number of factors, some of which are directly connected to the wall such as its height, its structure, the number of decorations and firing slits, the state of its deterioration and the direction in which it faces. Other factors are related to the location of the wall and the totality of conditions in its vicinity - the existence or absence of vegetation at the foot of the wall, the nature of the vegetation or landscaping, the nature of the urban infrastructures in its vicinity and the amount of human traffic. Because of the crucial effect the range of factors has on faunal and floral inventories on the wall, we decided to classify them and mark the important ones among them on a map.
Complicated natural systems were identified in a number of sections where interrelationships exist between the city wall and the surrounding areas. The elements that characterize these sections are the presence of an open area around the wall which contains natural or artificial vegetation or developed and exposed bedrock existing at the foot of the wall.
Concentrations of plants, reptiles and invertebrates were identified on most of the vertical sections of the wall, particularly on the lower course of the wall and at its interface with its surroundings, while the nesting of birds was concentrated in the upper courses of the walls, around the notches and the firing slits.
The few sections in which the wall slopes were rich in diverse vegetation and animals, especially reptiles and arthropods.

B. Description of the Wall's Infrastructures and Natural Resources

The Similarity of the City Wall to Cliffs in the Natural Environment. The Old City wall is built of stones that were quarried from the indigenous natural rock, which is primarily hard dense limestone. It seems that the animals and vegetation relate to the wall as though it was a natural rock cliff, and indeed cliff vegetation in particular, such as Podonosma orientalis, Capparis, Hyoscyamus and Parietaria, was identified along the vertical sections of the wall.
In certain sections the wall is built as a direct continuation of the natural cliff and a floral and faunal system exists on it on top of the rock, with its drippings toward the wall itself. In these sections, where the wall meets the natural cliff, there are ongoing processes in which organisms are adapting to the artificial wall and they contribute to understanding the history of the beginning of urban nature.

Influence of the Environmental Conditions on the Development of the Flora and Fauna on the City Wall.The direction that the wall faces has tremendous importance on the development of organisms along its surfaces. The side facing south is illuminated by direct sunlight for most of the daylight hours. Both sides facing east and west receive direct sunlight for several hours during the day, whereas the side facing north receives no direct sunlight. This fact has an impact on the amount of water that collects on the surface of the wall and on the habitation of the plants and animals in it. In addition the rain clouds, which usually come with the west or southwest wind, shower precipitation directly on the western and southern surfaces of the wall and less so on the eastern surfaces of the wall. It should be noted that the city wall is not built like a square aligned in a north-south east-west direction, and therefore the "northern side" actually faces northwest. Part of the "western side", between Jaffa Gate and IDF Square, faces southwest and in the southern wall there are areas that face southeast.

  • The North Face. This side is moist and relatively dark. A greater amount of mosses, lichens and photosynthetic bacteria (Cyanobacteria) were found there, which blacken the wall. On extensive sections of its surface, such as the moat for example, there is a covering of climbing vegetation of artificial origin like ivy that covers a significant percentage of the surface of the wall. These climbers like shade and cannot exist on the other faces of the wall. The natural vegetation of the city walls (e.g. Capparis and Hyoscyamus) is absent from most of the sections of the north face. Relatively few reptiles were identified on this face of the wall, probably because they require sunlight in order to be active. Mollusks (Levantina hierosolyma) were not identified in this region, even though they are known to prefer moisture.
  • The East Face. This side is relatively dry owing to its location on the eastern part of the mountain, close to the desert frontier, and because of the direction of the rain that comes from the west. The overwhelmingly predominant vegetation on this side is Capparis zoharyi, which clings to the wall. The presence of the Muslim cemetery running the entire length of the eastern wall actually prevents the establishment of desert frontier flora that certainly existed in this region in the past. The only nesting of a hoopoe detected in the survey, which apparently finds its food on the slopes of Nahal Kidron, is located in this wall.
  • The South Face. This side is characterized by significant sunshine. It is relatively rich in vegetation typical of the city wall such as Capparis, Podonosma orientalis and Hyoscyamus. A relatively abundant life system was identified the length of it and in which there are four kinds of reptiles. All of the swallow nests that were found during the survey were located in walls that face south, including the southern walls of the guard towers in the western wall of the city. There is also a relatively dense nesting of western jackdaws and a single nest of a common kestrel that was detected.
  • The West Face. The wall vegetation on this side is relatively sparse, except for a few sections of sloping wall south of David's Citadel where there is abundant vegetation, including massive flowering of annuals and geophytes. The side was found to be rich in reptiles, mollusks and insects.

Floral and Urban Landscaping Systems. The flora around the city wall is mostly artificial and dictated by the system of urban landscaping. The gardens around the city wall are physically divided into a number of separate landscape units and are also distinguished by their floral composition:
1. From IDF Square to Jaffa Gate there is a well maintained public garden several meters wide between the city wall and the sidewalk. It includes lawns and palm and carob trees.
2. From David's Citadel to Mount Zion - the southwestern corner of the city wall - there is a well maintained public garden with large lawns, trees (e.g. Ailanthus altissima, fig, olive and almond) and shrubbery (e.g. Spartium junceum, Rosmarinus officinalis). The lawn reaches the bedrock of the cliffs upon which the city wall is built. Southwest of David's Citadel is a glacis on which a natural system of annuals has developed.
3. From Mount Zion to Dung Gate is a steep slope where there is tall herbaceous vegetation together with Ailanthus altissima and Rhamnus lycioides. At the bottom of the slope is a moist system that includes a spring and several closed cisterns. Spring vegetation mostly consisting of Typha has developed around them. In large areas at the foot of the city wall a kind of bedrock shelf was formed upon which the flora has established itself.
4. In the archaeological garden there is a meticulously landscaped area with lawns and olive and cypress trees, next to the wilder Ophel garden where there is diverse vegetation - loquat and Ailanthus altissima, enormous rose bushes and annual herbaceous vegetation.
5. In the Muslim cemetery, which the municipal landscaping does not maintain, there are giant Pistacia palaestina and carob trees. The vegetation there is dominated by young Ailanthus altissima, a number of cypress trees and diverse herbaceous vegetation.
6. From the Stork Tower to Damascus Gate there is a section that includes the moat with climbing vegetation in it which is predominantly ivy, and developed bedrock upon which there is natural cliff vegetation (e.g. Phagnalon rupestre, Antirrhinum siculum and Podonosma orientalis).
7. From Damascus Gate to New Gate there is a system of broad public gardens that has been developed. They include lawns and various ornamental trees and shrubbery (e.g. salvia, Rosmarinus officinalis and Rhamnus) alongside trees (e.g. bay laurel, fig and carob).

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