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Computer Software Systems for Botanic Gardens in Russia

Volume 2 Number 8 - July 1997

Peter S. Wyse Jackson & Igor A. Smirnov

In 1996 BGCI received the support of the U.K. Government's Darwin Initiative for the Survival of Species to develop a three-year project on computer software systems for botanic gardens of former Soviet Union. The objectives of the project include the creation of appropriate computer software applications to document biodiversity collections in botanic gardens of the former Soviet Union (FSU) and to train botanic staff in their use. As part of the project a series of training courses in computer database systems for botanic gardens are being held, in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. An electronic communications network for botanic gardens in the FSU is also being created using email and on the internet.

Activities undertaken during the first year of the project have included:

  • Preparation and distribution of a Russian language version of BG-RECORDER, BGCUI's plant collections data management software;
  • Russian language versions of the International Transfer Format for Botanic Garden Plant Records (ITF) and a BG-RECORDER instruction manual;
  • An e-mail list server for botanic garden institutions in the former Soviet Union
  • A training workshop hosted by the Petrozavodsk University Botanic Garden in March 1997.

BGCI Moscow Office

The project is being led by the Moscow Division of BGCI, which is headed by Dr Igor Smirnov, and assistant Lena Antipova. The BGCI Moscow Division offices are housed at the Moscow Main Botanic Garden, established as a result of a Memorandum of Understanding between BGCI and that Garden in 1993. BGCI is registered with the Russian government as a not-for-profit organization. By the end of 1996 a total of 38 botanic gardens had become subscribing members of BGCI in the countries of the former Soviet Union, as follows: Armenia (3), Estonia (1), Georgia (1), Kazakhstan (1), Kyrgzstan (1), Latvia (1), Russia (22), Tajikistan (1), Ukraine (7).

Training workshop in Petrozavodsk

A "Darwin Initiative Workshop on BG-RECORDER and information systems for botanic gardens" was held Monday 10-15 March, hosted by the Botanic Garden of Petrozavodsk State University, Kerelia, Russia, by kind invitation of the Director Dr Alexei Prokhorov. A total of 32 people participated in the workshop.

Training for participants was provided by Dr Peter Wyse Jackson (BGCI), Mr Charlie Butterworth (BGCI Consultant, U.K.), Dr Igor Smirnov (BGCI, Moscow) and Dr Alexei Prokhorov (Petrozavodsk Univ. BG). The programme of the workshop included sessions on: The use of computers by botanic gardens, relational databases, information system management, software options, training on the International Transfer Format for Botanic Garden Plant Records and BG-RECORDER, electronic communications - email and internet. Each participant was shown how they could produce their own internet "homepage". Participants were also given tutorials on how to use BG-RECORDER and undertook extensive hands on practice.

Participants in the workshop came from botanic gardens in Russia (Moscow, St Petersburg, Petrozavodsk, Novosibirsk, Kirovsk, Urals), Latvia (Salaspils), Estonia (Tallinn) and Ukraine (Donetsk, Kiev).

Each participant attending the Petrozavodsk workshop was presented with an advance copy of the Russian language version of the program BG-RECORDER for their own institution. Work has also begun on the preparation of Russian language, Windows version of BG-RECORDER using Microsoft Access. This development was strongly recommended by the participants in the 1st workshop in Petrozavodsk. It is due to be completed in 1997.

The second Darwin Initiative workshop will be held in Kiev, Ukraine, hosted by the M.M. Grishko Central Botanical Garden, Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Kiev. Details of that meeting are available from BGCI in Moscow and London.