- Title: RUSSIA: European seed bank in fight for survival
- Date: 20th August 2010
- Summary: PAVLOVSK, ST.PETERSBURG REGION, RUSSIA (RECENT - AUGUST 16, 2010) (REUTERS) PAVLOVSK STATION MAIN OFFICE, GATE METAL ROCKET SCULPTURE OVER GATE IN FRONT OF OFFICE WINDOWS PLAQUE ON WALL READING "RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES. ALL-RUSSIAN PLANT INDUSTRY RESEARCH INSTITUTE NAMED AFTER N.VAVILOV. PAVLOVSK EXPERIMENTAL STATION" PANORAMIC VIEW OF PLANT FIELD AND GARDEN PLUM TREE PLUMS PLAQUE UNDER TREE READING "COLLECTION. PLUM, CHERRY PLUM. 370 SORTS" PLUMS ON BRANCH HAZELNUT TREE, HAZELNUTS FIELD WITH YOUNG PLANTS WITH SIGN IN FRONT OF IT READING "GROWING UP CUTTINGS" PAVLOVSK STATION OFFICE EXTERIOR, ENTRANCE WITH HAMMER AND SICKLE OVER IT (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) FYODOR MIKHOVICH, PAVLOVSK EXPERIMENTAL STATION DIRECTOR, SAYING: "This place is unique and there is no other place of this kind in the neighbourhood where you could relocate the plants to. Unless you just want to stupidly replant and kill the collection."
- Embargoed: 4th September 2010 13:00
- Topics: Environment / Natural World
- Reuters ID: LVACO84PRUA882JC0J9KVJVFH3MC
- Story Text: The biggest European field seed bank and one of the largest in the world, the Pavlovsk Experimental Station outside St. Petersburg, faces destruction and replacement by a private housing development.
A Russian court ruled recently the land could be sold to property developers. This could lead to the state-owned property being closed down if the court ruling to hand the station to the Russian Housing Development Foundation is implemented. The foundation is a state body authorised to decide whether to use public land to build private homes.
The station houses thousands of varieties of plants and crops which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The Pavlovsk collection holds about 320,000 samples of fruits and berries, as well as some nuts and flowers. The collection also includes more than 1,000 varieties of strawberries and hundreds of varieties of apples, pears and plums.
"The plants are unique because there are types and specimens which you can't find anywhere else but here. That's why many foreign scientists, Chinese, American, Danish and Swedish, are asking us from time to time for this or that sort or specimen to use them in the selection process when they are going to breed a new sort which should inherit the qualities and features of the one and only sort which can be found just here," said station director Fyodor Mikhovich.
The Pavlovsk experimental station is one of several of its kind in Russia. It was founded by the famous Russian geneticist and agricultural scientist Nikolai Vavilov in 1926 to maintain biodiversity and enable the breeding of new crop varieties. The seed bank, which was started about 70 years ago at the station, is believed to be one of the oldest in the world.
Usually seed banks around the world dry and freeze seeds to preserve them. The Pavlovsk collection keeps crops that have to be conserved as living specimens in the field.
"If the genotypes are destroyed Russia's food security will be weakened, and this will be harmful not only for the country but even for the whole world, because all these plants are registered in the international data base. It means every researcher from abroad knows the samples are being kept here and he or she can make a request if needed," said Pavlovsk Station's senior scientist Leonid Burmistrov.
The institute's scientists appealed in the court against the decision to put the land up for sale, but they are unlikely to win and at least a fifth of the station's land could soon be bought by a property developer to built private one-family houses.
"All of our collections, this whole garden plot, are endangered. The fruit trees will be destroyed first of all and then these plants as well. We have a village in the neighbourhood, a telephone line, gas, electricity and water supply, and someone wanted very much to capture these plots," said the curator of the ornamental plants section, senior scientist Natalya Petrenko.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2011. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None