Juan de Dios Muñoz 1947 - 2007
Juan de Dios (centre back) with some of his team from
Juan de Dios Muñoz, Director of Jardín Botánico Oro Verde and botany lecturer at the Universidad Nacional de Entre Ríos, Argentina died on Monday 5th February 2007.
Juan de Dios was born in Paraná in 1947 and graduated from Universidad Nacional del Nordeste in 1973. With a passionate interest in plants and their uses, he went on to become the Professor of Systematic Botany at Universidad Nacional de Entre Ríos (UNER).
It was here at the UNER campus in Oro Verde that Juan de Dios played a key role in developing the Soil and Vegetation map of Entre Ríos. Whilst at Oro Verde, Juan de Dios saw the potential of a small remnant patch of native vegetation on the campus. Together with colleagues and a team of student volunteers, he transformed this area in to an educational resource where he could teach students, schoolchildren and adults about taxonomy, plants and the uses. Building on this success and the interest he generated in the students he taught, he began to develop plans for a botanic garden. In 2003, he was able to begin building this new botanic garden with assistance from the Investing in Nature programme from BGCI. Always keen to foster an understanding of plants in his students, he ensured that they played a full role in the planning of the garden, its construction and eventual management. The new botanic garden will form a vital and much needed research and educational resource for the university, local community and visitors to the region. The new botanic garden is due to open in 2007.
In 2003 he received his Doctorate from the Universidad de Buenos Aires in Pharmacobotany and Pharmacognosy, and in doing so highlighting the huge potential of the native flora and its need for conservation action.
Over the years Juan de Dios published many papers and wrote several books including: Trees and Shrubs of Entre Ríos, 1983; Co-author, Flora of Paraguay, 1990; Catalogue of Argentinian Vascular Plants, 1999; Argentine Phanerogamic Flora, 2000. In 1996, he helped found the Argentine Network of Botanic Gardens. He was also an old friend and keen supporter of BGCI; he collaborated in the publication of both the Darwin Technical Manual for Botanic Gardens (1998) and the International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation (2000).
He was fellow of the American States Organization (OEA) at the New York Botanical Garden (1983 and at the garden of the University of Chapingo, México (1990). He also receive the fololwing distinctions: British Council Award of Cultural Relations (1965); Gold Medal for the Best University score (1973) awarded by the Agrnomist Engineers Council; Award the Academic Excellence (Argentine Institute for the Excellence, 1996,1997); Honour Diploma of the Litoral Natural Sciences Asociation (2001); Honour Diplma of the University of Entre Ríos (2001) and the distintin Paraná Agradece awarded by the Municipality of Paraná. He also recived the awards by the International Biographic Centre, Cambridge, UK: 2000 Outstanding Scientists of the XX Centrury (2001); Great Minds of the XXI Centrury (2002); Remarkable Personalities of the XXI Centrury (2002); and included in the Interantional Biographic Dictionary, 31st Edition (2004), the International Directory of Outstanding Personalities (2001) and the International Who´s Who (2003-2004) of the American Biographical Institute. He was also consultant for the research committee of that Institute (since 2001).
His passion for plants and their importance to the environment and to us, which he was always willing to discuss, allowed him to influence the interests of his students, colleagues, the public and politicians alike. He made significant progress in protecting the native flora of Entre Ríos by highlighting the importance of native plants through good scientific research and campaigning against deforestation and environmental destruction.
As a botanist, campaigner and as a friend of many, Juan de Dios will be sorely missed. BGCI would like to extend its condolences to his family, his team at Jardín Botánico Oro Verde, his colleagues and his many friends and students.