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The Quito Botanic Garden, Ecuador

Volume 2 Number 2 - July 1993
Juan Del Hierro

Background

A group of scientists, botanists and friends of nature, concerned by the pace of habitat and ecosystem destruction in our mountain areas, as well as the scant scientific and cultural knowledge of our natural heritage, decided to promote the creation of a botanic garden for the city of Quito, Ecuador.

The project of a botanic garden for conservation and educational purposes was presented to the authorities at the Quito Municipality and approval was granted to proceed with the steps necessary to make it a reality.

On October 4th 1989, the Municipality of Quito, The Natural Science Museum of Ecuador, and The Quito Garden Club signed an agreement to establish and manage The Quito Botanic Garden, to be located at the old municipal nursery in the heart of "La Carolina" park.

The Andes Botanical Foundation was established to fulfil the objectives of the above agreement. The Foundation was approved by accord 0270 of the Ministry of Agriculture and published in the official registry no. 711 on July 24th 1991. Thus, on the 3rd of April 1992, the Quito Botanic Garden was officially turned over for its administration and management to the Andes Botanical Foundation.

Project Description

It is important for the city of Quito to have a botanic garden that is representative of the Biodiversity found in the highlands of the country. The Garden will cover an area of 18,600 square metres. It is privileged by its location within the "La Carolina" Park located in the heart of the city. This park receives intense public use of its various facilities, such as the Exhibit Centre, the Natural Science Museum, the Quito Garden Club and the Youth Centre, as well as multiple recreation facilities and areas designed and used for sports.

Objectives

The main objective of the Botanic Garden is to cultivate, inventory, conserve, reproduce, exhibit and disseminate knowledge of important botanical species native to the Andes and present them in an aesthetic and creative garden design.

Goals

As previously mentioned, our main goal is to exhibit a representative group of native Andean plants, stressing education on environmental and ecological issues, whereby schools can introduce their students to the richness of our natural heritage and illustrate it in their botany classes; to save endangered species ex situ; to form a seedbank for reproduction in vitro and to develop horticultural techniques for our native plants. Also, we expect the Garden to become an important tourist attraction in the city of Quito.

General Outline of the Botanic Garden

The 18,600 square metres assigned to the botanic garden will include the following basic areas. As the Garden's main feature, an orchidarium of approximately 1,500 square metres, will demonstrate the importance of our country in this field. Ecuador contains more than 3,500 orchid species and the number described is growing steadily.

The Garden will be designed to exhibit specific habitats such as:

  • An arboretum of Andean woodland species which will eventually replace the exotic trees and bushes that predominate in the area now
  • An area of native fruit (Annonaceae)
  • A high mountain wetland
  • An area of succulents and other dry habitat species
  • A Paramo
  • A palmetum of cold area species
  • A humid mountain forest composed of Araceae, Gesneriaceae, Orchidaceae, Bromeliaceae, Filices, etc.
  • An area with Brugmancias and Daturas
  • A display of mountain shrubs such as Proteaceae, Ericaceae, etc.
  • A collection of grasses and cereals.

These exhibits will be visited by the public via 1,600 metres of scenic walkways, trails and resting areas for contemplation, with a small lake that will be fed and renewed by recirculated water falling from small cascades. A conference area for 70 people has been designed as part of the Garden. It will also include an administrative, information, sales, ticket and telephone area, a guard house, a warehouse, a tissue culture laboratory, quarantine nurseries, sanitary facilities, machine rooms, water reservoirs, pumps, pressure tanks and an irrigation system for each of the different habitats in the park.

Development of the Project and Work Already Completed

A basic infrastructure plan of the botanic garden has been established. This plan determines: the main access, the administrative area, the guardhouse, the warehouse, the conference space, sanitary facilities, circulation paths for maintenance and public use, a small lake with its water recirculation system, water reservoirs, the orchidarium and the location of machine rooms, warehouse and tissue culture laboratory.

Construction of Basic Works

With the collaboration of the public works department of the Quito Municipality, on October 14, 1992, the work at the site was started. It was much more complicated than foreseen as it was necessary to remove construction materials and trash that constituted more than 50% of the mounds that were going to be used to shape the different levels of the Garden. This work is almost finished and the space for the lake and the orchidarium has already been cleared and excavated. The material in good condition has been placed so as to contour the mountains and valleys of the park.

The Immediate Plans

Once the basic work is finished, the entire area will have to be protected by a fence. The existing structure will be completed with 13 rows of barbed wire, as well as wire-fencing facing north-northwest to limit the path in front of the Quito Garden Club. A wall will be needed at the western side of the park to separate it from the Science Museum, as well as the main access doors and the maintenance entrance. This fence will be completed with live plants.

At present, a list of the requirements is being prepared to hand over to the architects who will collaborate with the foundation and elaborate the blueprints of the various constructions that are part of the botanic garden.

Design of the Garden

With the help and collaboration of a landscape architect provided by the Missouri Botanical Garden, U.S., a conceptual plan has been prepared and the definite blueprints and recommendations will be finished by the end of May, 1993.

Models

Once the construction and garden plans are available, two models will be made: one will cover the entire area and the other will feature the orchidarium. Both will be used to study the designs, exhibit and promote the project and help in the execution of the work.

Final Blueprints and Approval by the Municipality

In August 1993, when the final blueprints are available, the structural, irrigation and water distribution systems, the drainage and hydraulic plans, as well as electrical drafts, will be completed in order to seek their approval by the Municipality of Quito and be able to start with the construction.