Vitoria-Gasteiz Green Belt - Olarizu Park
Olarizu Botanical Gardens
The project to equip the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz with a Botanical Garden has had a history of several decades. The first news on this subject appeared in some newspaper articles published in the 1970s. A short time later, in the 1980s, the City Council expressed the desire to create a botanical garden in the city. But the time it came closest to achieving this goal was in the mid-nineties (1994-1996), following a proposal by the Botanical section of the Dept. of Plant Biology and Ecology of the School of Pharmacy of the UPV/EHU, which planned the creation of a botanical garden on the Álava Campus, in the gardens of the former Las Nieves Residence. Despite the support and the agreement between the University and City Council, this proposal never came to fruition.
With the new century, the Centre for Environmental Studies (CEA) of the Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council took the initiative to develop a project for a Botanical Garden in Olárizu Park, in the south-east of the city. It was at this point when, with the passage of time, little by little, the initiative became a proposal, the proposal a project and the desire to create a botanical garden finally became reality.
Since its origins, the Olárizu Botanical Gardens were conceived as a project to consolidate the green spaces of Vitoria-Gasteiz's Green Belt. It was considered a multifunctional space that, in addition to being a public park and bringing together botanical collections with a clear educational and informative vocation, should become an institution capable of carrying out research and conservation projects, fulfilling the functions inherent to botanical gardens of the twenty-first century.
During 2001 the Botanical section of the School of Pharmacy of the UPV/EHU participated in a scientific consultancy role by preparing a report titled, "Parks and Botanical Gardens in the 21st century. A model for Vitoria-Gasteiz" (Renobales, López-Quintana & Viñuela, 2001). This document helped to define the project's basic objectives.
In 2005, the CEA prepared a "Proposal for the creation of the Olárizu Botanical Gardens" that focused exclusively on developing the European Forest Arboretum project, which, therefore, became the pioneering project of the future Olárizu Botanical Gardens.
Between 2006 and 2009, the CEA received scientific advice from the Chair of Botany at the School of Science and Technology at the UPV/EHU with a view to defining the Arboretum collections that had to represent the diversity of European forests (Agut & Loidi, 2006a; 2006b; 2007; 2009).
Parallel to the creation of the European Forest Arboretum (2005-2010), the overall Olárizu Botanical Gardens project continued its course. In 2007, the Centre for Environmental Studies of the Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council (CEA) designed a "Master Plan for the creation of the Olárizu Botanical Gardens" and, that same year, commissioned the study titled "Bases for a project to create the Vitoria-Gasteiz Plant Germplasm Bank" (Infante, Heras & Renobales, 2007). This triggered a process that developed over the following two years and ended with the preparation of the "Master Plan for the creation of the Olárizu Botanical Gardens ( Vitoria-Gasteiz )" (Infante, Heras & Renobales, 2009).
Following the guidelines set by the Master Plan, the project to establish the Plant Germplasm Bank of the Olárizu Botanical Gardens was launched towards the middle of 2010. The bank began to operate in 2011 after adapting the facilities required for this activity.
In addition, during 2010 and 2011, four new areas for various living plant collections were planned: Olárizu Lake, the Fields of Orchids, the Olarizu Viewpoint and the Garden of Useful and Endangered Plants.
Work began in 2012 to design environmental education activities related to plant biodiversity, forests and forest ecosystems and the conservation of plants, taking advantage of the resources of the European Forest Arboretum and the Germplasm Bank.
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