Vitoria-Gasteiz Green Belt - Olarizu Park
Olarizu Botanical Gardens
The Germplasm Bank of the Olárizu Botanical Gardens was established in 2010 and began to operate in 2011. The opening of the Germplasm Bank is a milestone of great importance in the history of the Olárizu Botanical Gardens, since it constitutes a fundamental element in the development of plant biodiversity conservation and research (reproductive biology, germination, plant production methods, etc.) beyond classic botanical research and studies, which are already being carried out within the Botanic Gardens (flora catalogues, plant characterization, thematic mapping, monitoring of species, etc.).
A plant germplasm bank is a collection of living plant material that maintains its reproductive capacity for long periods of time in the form of seeds, spores, cuttings, tissue or other parts of the plant, preserved in low temperature and humidity conditions so that, in the future, it can be used for reproduction purposes using different techniques. In other words, a germplasm bank is a biodiversity bank.
Since the late twentieth century, due to the widespread environmental deterioration resulting from human activity, the world has been experiencing a serious loss of biodiversity at all levels. This crisis has led to the need for germplasm banks to specialise in the ex-situ preservation (outside of the natural environment) of wild flora, making them an indispensable tool to prevent the loss of genetic biodiversity and a necessary complement to in-situ conservation (within the natural environment), ensuring a future for endangered species and for the rest through the implementation of recovery plans for species, population reinforcements, reintroductions, translocations, habitat restoration, etc.
In the present historical context, the JBO Germplasm Bank was established with two purposes in mind. The main objective is the long-term conservation of endangered wild flora that is endemic, rare and unique to the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country and neighbouring territories, and of the structural and characteristic species of habitats of community importance in the same geographical area. The second objective is the obtain seeds and the necessary plant production levels to complete the living plant collections of the Olárizu Botanical Gardens.
The Olárizu Botanical Gardens' Germplasm Bank has the necessary scientific-technical staff, facilities and equipment for the long-term processing and preservation of seeds. A number of priorities have been defined regarding the conservation of the target species. On the basis of the conservation priorities defined, a field collection and prospection plan is prepared to obtain seed samples from wild populations. The samples collected are deposited in the reception and cleaning room where the harbarium specimens are prepared and the seeds are separated from the fruit, protective covers and other impurities. Once clean, the seeds are placed in the drying room (10°C and 15% RH) until they match the conditions of the room. Then the seeds are placed in the ultra-drying chambers with silica gel (7-12% RH), located inside the drying room. In this way, the specimens collected can be preserved for long periods of time in a ultra-dry conditions, packaged in flame-sealed capsules or ampoules and stored in the conservation room (-18ºC). Simultaneously, the samples are characterized in the research laboratory: image analysis (morpho-colorimetric features, 3D), viability tests (germination capacity, conductivity test ) and the measurement of moisture content. Plant production takes place in four germination and growth chambers, a greenhouse, a conservatory and production beds.
Current and future projects for the conservation of endangered flora
The "Project for the conservation and re-introduction of endangered flora and characteristics of Oak Stands in the Llanada Alavesa District (LIC IS2110013)" was conducted in 2011-2012. This was a project funded by the Department of Environment, Planning, Agriculture and Fisheries of the Basque Government.
- Conservation of 105 different species, 81 species belonging to the habitat of the SCI, including 9 endangered species.
- Rediscovery and recovery of the third known population of Galium boreale in the Basque Country, which was thought to have become extinct about 30 years ago.
- Observation of the increase in the number of individuals and the area occupied by the population of existing Berula erecta in the Rivere Zalla.
- Cultivation through vegetative propagation of Littorella uniflora.
- Germination and plant production protocols for Berula erecta, Senecio carpetanus, Galium boreale, Narcissus gr. pseudonarcissus, Narcissus bulbocodium subsp. citrinus and Merendera montana (not endangered).
The 'Ex-situ conservation programme for endangered and characteristic flora of Montes Altos de Vitoria (LIC IS2110015)", a project funded by the Department of Environment, Planning, Agriculture and Fisheries of the Basque Government, will be conducted in 2012-2013.
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