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Botanic Garden of ISU
Irkutsk State University, Irkutsk. Russia


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Garden for All Seasons - The Botanic Garden of Irkutsk State University

MISSION OF THE BOTANIC GARDEN:
'To protect and enrich the flora of the Lake Baikal region and the World for people through public education, plant collections, propagation, research and conservation of the diversity of plant genetic resources'.

"Keep a green tree in your heart and,
perhaps, the singing birds will come
"
Old Chinese saying

Can the usual citizen of Irkutsk visit a green tropical forest and inhale the smells of exotic plants during the long Siberian winter? Or it is the privilege for "New Russians" who can travel to exotic places.
We answer, "Yes, there is such a unique place in Irkutsk, where huge 4-meter cacti, palms, bananas, agaves, bromelias, eucalyptuses, poinsettias, "deer's horn" ferns, citrus trees and vines grow green year-round". All this is created and supported by the work of dedicated enthusiasts - the staff of the Botanic Garden of Irkutsk State University (BG ISU).
From the very beginning of the 80-year history of the University, there was the idea to arrange a special botanic garden for scientific work of the students and teachers, and also for the education and pleasure of local citizens. This idea managed to be realized in the spring of 1941 only, on the eve of World War II. For 40-50 years it has been a difficult time in the development of the Garden as a department of the University and, for a long time, it remained closed to free visitation. But the need for an open Botanic Garden is great, bolstered by numerous requests from Irkutsk citizens.
The Botanic Garden of ISU is the only botanic garden in the region, having a collection of more than 1700 species and varieties of plants, representing the flora of Irkutsk Oblast and different biomes of the world. The Garden's staff can provide year-round thematic excursions and guided tours in the open collections and the educational greenhouses by prearranged group application. The Garden has become, for many gardeners and dacha owners, an exclusive  source of high quality nursery-stock of fruit and ornamental trees, shrubs, exotic herbaceous plants, and perennials. The employees of the Garden are always ready to provide free-of-charge advice and consultation about growing, protection, and use of favourite plants. The Botanic Garden attracts and involves Irkutsk citizens - especially youth - in an atmosphere of freshness, and with an appreciation of nature, in all the seasons of the year. Students from the University, the Youth Educational Centre, special children's homes (orpahangees), and secondary public schools participate in work-study programs.
Supported by the administration of the University, the TACIS program of of the European Community, and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, our staff is developing a conceptual and strategic plan of development of the Botanic Garden as an object of special environmental, scientific, cultural, aesthetic, and recreational importance for Irkutsk residents. It is necessary to transform the Garden into a unique sight for Irkutsk - a subject of citizen pride. In the nearest future it will also be necessary to make a part of the collections of the Garden accessible for free admission by the inhabitants of, and visitors to, Irkutsk. It now being required by the new law of the Russian Federation "On Strictly Protected Natural Territories".
As a museum of living nature and, first of all - a cultural, educational, and environmental institution - it is necessary to organize the Garden in order to demonstrate the beauty of plants for the pleasure and education of visitors and students. Landscapes and the collections will attract and involve visitors, tourists, and the local population. During this troubled time of transition in Russia, it is necessary to save this such green island of nature for our children and grand-children. In this pursuit of preservation of the Garden, your support is necessary.

Victor Kuzevanov, Ph.D., Director
(translated from Russian by O.J.Lougheed)

Staff of the Botanic Garden on the 80th Anniversary of Irkutsk State University, November, 1998. Photo V. Kholoden
Kneeling (from left to right) - Svetlana Shestakova, Konstantin Berezovsky, Nadejda Koroleva, Victor Kuzevanov, Alexei Puzanov
Standing (from left to right)- Valentina Voronina, Sergei Shvetsov, Galina Lagoda, Svetlana Sizykh, Vladimir Ivanov, Lyudmila Smirnova, Vladimir Puzanov, Tatiana Eremeeva, Anna Korotaeva, Oleg Letov, Nadejda Puzanova, Leonid Sudnikovich, Elena Khmelkova, Snejana Kalinovich


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