New Palestine Museum of Natural History

Scientific research led by Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh at new Palestine Museum of Natural History at Bethlehem University was published and titled ‘Decline in Vertebrate Biodiversity in Bethlehem, Palestine this summer. The speed of decline in biodiversity due to habitat destruction in Palestine over the last few decades has been catastrophic. Samples in the Bethlehem area have found that of 31 species of mammals commonly witnessed in the 1960s and early 1970s 13 species have already disappeared, including 4 of 7 varieties of bat and 8 species of carnivore. Badgers and the native gazelle are also reaching a point of critical endangerment. Similarly, one third of species observed few decades ago were not seen in more recent surveys. The human population has not been immune from the ongoing environmental catastrophe. In a 2013 paper on genotoxicity, Dr Qumsiyeh and one of his master’s students showed the effect that the Israeli industrial settlement of Barqan near Salfit is having on DNA of local Palestinians.

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