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Notes on the Collection of the Arboretum Borova Hora, Slovakia and its Approach to Genetic Conservation

Volume 2 Number 7 - December 1996

Juraj Labanc

Founded in 1965, The Arboretum Borova Hora is a research-development unit of the Technical University at Zvolen in Slovakia.In contrast to other similar establishments, Arboretum Borova Hora holds a collection of tree species which includes many of the intraspecific and geographical variations found in the natural forests of Slovakia. As we see the natural environment rapidly deteriorating, the collection of tree species in the arboretum is gaining greater relevance as it contributes to the preservation of gene pools of the indigenous dendroflora.

In 1981 the Arboretum Borova Hora was proclaimed a Protected Study Area in recognition of the value of its plant diversity. The collection of the Arboretum Borova Hora is composed of three groups: tree species, roses and cacti, all maintained with the purpose of rescuing and preserving genetic diversity.

Trees, particularly indigenous species have formed the fundamental collection since the establishment of the arboretum. When preserving gene pools, attention is focused on endangered taxa but another aspect of the collections includes ecotypes, populations from extreme conditions and morphological deviations, which are not protected in "Red Lists", yet are a significant part of the gene pool of localised dendroflora. It is hoped that the maximum possible variation of our trees is saved. Currently around 1,100 tree taxa are held.

Indigenous tree species which originated from localities in Slovakia are of great significance for example, Abies alba Mill., Juniperus communis L., Larix decidua Mill., Pinus mugo Turra., Alnus glutinosa (L.) Gaetn.This material is very important for comparative studies, especially of lower taxonomical units.

From research material, provenance plots have been established in the Arboretum for Pinus cembra L,. Pinus sylvestris L. Acer pseudoplatanus L., and clonal archives and seed orchards for Betula verrucosa var. carelica N.0.Sok., Tilia cordata Mill., and Tilia platyphyllos Scor.

Alongside the arboretum, a rose collection has been developed and contains a wide range of the most important varieties in Slovakia, creating an archive of varieties produced in the former Czechoslovakia. Of the 207 varieties cultivated in the arboretum, 116 were bred by J. B”hm and R. Geschwind. With on-going reorganisation, this will increase to over 700 varieties of bed, garden, climbing and miniature roses.

In the 1972 the collection of cacti and succulents was established as a part of the educational activities of the arboretum. Specializing in cacti from Mexico and the USA, over 100 genera and 600 taxa are represented, mainly of Mamilliara and Echinocereus.The Arboretum Borova Hora is conserving endangered species, (especially those on the CITES appendices and are included in the collection only if the wild provenance is known) as part of the global orientation of the arboretum. 

The Arboretum Borova Hora aims to:

  • contribute to the preservation of the border populations of commercial trees species and populations which demonstrate variation;
  • help preserve individual taxa with regard to their morphological and ecological variability, with special attention to endangered taxa and populations;
  • collect and preserve the morphological deviations found in nature, as well as the cultural forms of our tree species recognising these as a significant component of biodiversity.

The long-term objective of the arboretum is the conservation of tree gene pools, and also study in two spheres:

  • the identification of biological characteristics of collected forms of tree species with the possibility of utilizing such forms in specific ecological conditions;
  • hybridising experiments aimed at broadening the spectrum of decorative tree forms.