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Research Institute of Forests and Rangelands (RIFR), Iran

Volume 2 Number 5 - August 1995
M. Jafari

The botanic garden and herbarium known as the National Garden and Central Herbarium of Iran is a department of the Research Institute of Forests and Rangelands (RIFR). The Research Institute of Forests and Rangelands is affiliated to the Ministry of construction Jahad. It was originally established to undertake research into soil conservation, watershed management and moving sand dune fixation and has now expanded to include ten research divisions, which will coordinate all aspects of renewable natural resources in Iran. The Botany Research Division is very active in research projects and is planned to be the main centre for horticultural, taxonomic and ecologial research. Its work includes the establishment of botanic gardens.

The botanic garden was founded on 1968. An area of 150 ha. was allocated to the garden by the freeway between Tehran and Karaj at an altitude of about 1,320 m. The area is flat and slopes gently to the south. The Alborz mountains forms the background.

The climate is dry with an average annual precipitation of about 24 mm. between November and May. Temperatures reach as much as 42-43oC, during July and August and in the winter may fall to -10øC or lower. The natural vegetation is dry Artemisia herba-alba steppe.

The construction of the garden is still being undertaken. Several lakes have been excavated, and three have been filled with water. Three hills (the highest reaching 24 m.), have been built to represent the Alborz, Zagros and Himalaya mountains. A large rock garden with cliff walls and a waterfall has been constructed, as well as a special section for Iranian bulbous plants and a section to display ornamental plants. A section for desert plants with sand dunes, a salt lake and wadi have also been constructed. An area of about 5 ha. represents the Caspian forest.

A medicinal plant section has been established and a fruit garden with different varieties and cultivars of walnut, grape, pomegranate are in cultivation. A systematic garden is under construction and several species have been planted. A picnic area of 25 ha. has been considered.

Studies on the flora, phytosociology and phytogeography are ongoing activities of the division. Six more botanical gardens are also planned in six phytogeographically different provinces and herbaria are being established in twelve different research centres under the supervision of the Central Herbarium. These will support other organizations which work on natural resources in the provinces and help the Central Herbarium in the collection of plants. The herbarium of Iranian plants is gradually being built up and now consists of 123,000 specimens.

New botanic gardens planned or begun are as follows:

  • Dezful Botanic Garden, in the Province of Khuzestan, with sub-tropical conditions. The garden is about 40 ha. in extent and was begun in 1993.
  • Tabriz Botanic Garden, in the Province of Azarbayjan. The garden is 25 ha. in extent and was begun in 1993.
  • Nowshahr Botanic Garden, situated in the Caspian area in the north of Iral. The garden is about 30 ha. in extent.
  • Two botanic gardens, at Yazd and Kashan, in the central deserts of Iran are being developed.
  • The establishment of two other botanic gardens in the Provinces of Khorasan and Fars will be considered in the future.

Another division of the Research Institute of Forests and Rangelands is the Medicinal Plants and By Products Research (non-wood products) Division which in the year 1993 had 27 research projects. This division collects herbal species used in medicine and studies their classification, breeding and cultivation. It is hoped that these plants will be used in agriculture and industry. The medicinal plant collections are in the National Botanical Garden of Iran, the Isfahan Research Centre and other collections under development in Shiraz.

The Institute also has a Library and Plant Science Laboratory. The plant Science Laboratory has carried out six research projects on cell and tissue culture such as the domestication of Morina persica the seed of which is eaten like rice.