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save the hortus botanicus VU

Hortus botanicus VU
 
Amsterdam 28 april 2011
 
The Hortus Botanicus of the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, The Netherlands is threatened with closure by the University’s governing board. Because the University never presented clear plans showing the planned use of the land on which the Hortus stands, and stating when the change would happen, it was not possible to begin to protest or prepare for this drastic event. There have been many rumours, however.One was that the Hortus had to make place for new buildings for the hospital, the Vrije Universiteit Medical Center (VUMC), which abuts the terrein of the Hortus.Now the rumors have become reality. The decision has been made to demolish this valuable botanical garden in two to five years to make room for a new complex of high-rise buildings.The Hortus houses a very rich plant collection with more than 6000 species.This small but charming botanical garden contains a greenhouse complex with various climates, onder which a tropical greenhouse, a sub-tropical greenhouse, an orangerie, a cactus and succulent greenhouse and smaller greenhouses for growing seedlings. The exceptional cactus and succulent greenhouse houses the largest collection in The Netherlands. Some of these plants are 100 years old or perhaps older. Through the 40 years of its existence the Hortus has built up a large collection of plants, trees and shrubs with natural-historical value. It is open to the public throughout the year, without entrance fee. Another part of the Hortus greenhouse complex is intended for university students and their experiments.The gardens are also varied. There is a Chinese miniature landscape garden (The Penjing Garden), a Bonsai display and many types of bamboo spread throughout the gardens. There is an extensive collections of Australian trees and shrubs, which overwinter in the Orangerie and set outside every spring. Another area of concern are the plants which are taken into custody at Schiphol airport and sent to the Hortus to be cared for.These plants are on the red list of endangered species and in an ironical twist, may not be transported to other botanical gardens, even in The Netherlands. They are legally protected and are not the property of the university.These plants will be destroyed if the Hortus is closed, further reducing the biological diversity of the earth and the chance to examine these plants and their DNA.A few other areas in which the Hortus is very strong are:-Every year the Hortus participates in an international seed exchange. Many of these seeds, which with much expertise are collected, cleaned, sorted and packaged, come naturally from the Hortus’s own plants for the seed exchange and for sale to visitors.-Some of the Orangerie plants are 60-80 years old.-The Hortus has taken care to mark those plants which are named in the Bible and other religious traditions, and to give tours highlighting these.-There is an extensive collection of epiphytic orchids and bromelia’s.-There is an effort to educate and involve children in the activities of the Hortus.-The Hortus provides a green, restful and inspiring environment in the midst of the university/hospital complex, which is mainly comprised of tall buildings, busy roads and mass transit.-Visitors come to buy unusual plants not found in the local nurseries, and to learn more over their own plants.-the dedicated experts of the Hortus also care for the many plants in the university itself and in the offices of the employees there.-There is an extensive and unusual collection of scented geraniums and pelargoniums.-The Hortus is a member of the national plant collection, an umbrella organisation of all 18 botanical gardens in The Netherlands. Unfortunately this watchdog organisation is itself threatened with extinction as the concerned minister has withdrawn its subsidy.-Patients, staff and visitors to the hospital are often found enjoying the rich colours and filling their lungs with the sweet smells of the gardens. They are very happy to have a garden so close by. It has been shown that plants in the work environment improve worker’s performance and well-being. Why wouldn’t we want to have a “green experience” available for city-dwellers? We should be creating more gardens, not destroying the valuable ones! -There are approximately 40 large trees in the gardens, among others many types of pinus(pines), ornamental cherry and other fruit, the hankerchief tree (Davidia involucrata), gingo bibalo’s, and magnolia.-The Hortus colleagues are supported and supplemented by a large group of dedicated volunteers, people from the city with varying skills and expertise. There is also a large group of generous donors who love and support this unique garden in Amsterdam.-The Hortus has no entrance fee.We urge everyone who reads this to send a letter or e-mail to the Board of the university and of the hospital to protest this unnecesary waste of a valuable and irreplaceable treasure. We here will do our best to prevent the Hortus from closing.
College van Bestuur van de Vrije Universiteit
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
You may also write to . He is the director of the Board.rm.smit@dienst.vu.nl You will receive an answer and be advised to read this answer carefully.
and/or
Raad van Bestuur van het VU Medisch Centrum
Postbus 7057
1007 MB Amsterdam
ortus Botanicus VU
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