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Regional ex situ Biodiversity Conservation Programmes at the Botanic Garden of the Tver State University, Russia

Volume 3 Number 5 - December 2000
Y. V. Naumtsev

There are many advantages of regionally-focused activities. It is possible to study and conserve most of the endangered plants of the region in cultivation, devise optimal conditions for introducing plants into cultivation, study the plants in cultivation and the wild and various types of biodiversity conservation activities can be coordinated in the region.

The major steps for developing and implementing a regional programme are:

  • a provisional detailed study of the regional flora and its analysis from the point of view of botany and geography;
  • analysis of the areas which need urgent protection (unique nature complexes, rare plants and ecological plant groups, disappearing plant species, isolated plant populations remote from the areas of dense distribution, rare biotypes);
  • the development of a Red Data Book of the region based on the results of the analysis of the flora, development of a regional strategy for biodiversity conservation and a programme of ex situ conservation;
  • creation of conservation collections and nurseries of rare and endangered plant species of the region, display and development of plant exhibitions imitating unique nature complexes;
  • large scale studies on the introduction into cultivation of rare and endangered plants from their natural habitats and assessment of the results of cultivation;
  • search for optimal forms of conservation ex situ and the assessment of the potential of re-introduction of cultivated plants into the wild in which it formerly occurred;
  • employment of ex situ conservation activity into the regional network of environmental protection activities.

Special attention should be paid to those taxonomic, ecological and biological groups of endangered plants which have never been studied before e.g. bryophytes, vascular plants, hydro- and hygrophytes (including the plants of oligotrophic lakes and sphagnum marshes), calceophiles and mycotrophic plants. It is expedient to combine work on the cultivation of wild plants with monitoring the species in the wild.

Regionally focussed activities provide a basis for education work and stimulates further ex situ conservation activities.

For instance:

The development of a live Red Data Book of the region:

  • allows a full representation of the rare and endangered plants of the region;
  • provides the basis for the development of methods of cultivation for various groups of protected plants;
  • gives an opportunity to refine the ecology, biology and protection status of the endangered plants;
  • raises the effectiveness of the educational and nature protection activities.

and

The development of a plant exhibition of the unique nature complexes of the region:

  • helps to assess the future for the conservation of the habitat fragments in culture and to model the relationships of the components within the habitat;
  • helps to determine the components within a habitat;
  • provides the basis for the education projects for visitors to the botanic garden.

The complex character of the task involves close cooperation between botanical institutions concerned with similar problems. It is necessary to develop a network of botanic gardens working on a project using introduction into cultivation as a means of biodiversity conservation.

Strategy of Biodiversity Conservation for the Tver Region

In 1990 the Botanic Garden of the Tver State University (TSU) and the Botany Department of TSU began joint field research on the flora of the Tver oblast (Regional administrative unit). Since 1994, various components of the biodiversity of the region have been studied in detail. The following plant groups have already been inventoried: vascular plants, bryophytes and lichens. The rare and endangered plants have been listed to be added to the Red Data Book of the Tver oblast.

The conservation collection Rare and endangered plants of the Tver oblast is under development. At present the collection comprises 122 species of rare and endangered plants, of them 60 species are to be added to the Red Data Book of the Tver oblast (about 50 per cent of the total number of entries), 70 species are included in the Red Data Books of the neighbouring oblasts. The collection represents the plants of different orders (angiosperms, bryophytes, Licopodiales, Pteropsida, Equisetales}, and of different ecological and phytocoenotic groups (including calceophiles, hydro- and hygrophytes), and species of different stenotopic characteristics. The collection also includes the relict ferns of Middle Russia, collected from natural populations outside the main area of distribution. Methods for their propagation and optimal horticulture techniques are being developed. Experiments on rare and endangered bryophytes are being carried out and the collection is being developed constantly . Experiments with other plant groups are being planned.

The collections provide the basis for educational work. The programme is included in the Regional Biodiversity Conservation Strategy.

The collection Unique nature complexes of the Tver oblast is under development . It will imitate certain habitat fragments which are interesting from the point of view of Botany and Geography.

The potential of bringing species into cultivation for biodiversity conservation is not used to its full extent. The advantages of the purpose-oriented regional programmes of biodiversity conservation ex situ are underestimated. There is an urgent need to find new effective forms of conservation activity for various regions and to coordinate them with other forms of environmental protection activity.

The Botanic Garden of the Tver State University invites cooperation and partnership with botanic gardens and institutes all over the world.

The Andreapolskiy region is one of the most interesting places of the Tver oblast from the point of view of its biology and geography. In the region there are rare plant species (for example, Carex remota) and fragments of the old broad-leaved forests. The region is being monitored. The conservation collection of the garden contains some live species collected in the region.