Arriving today at its 46th anniversary, the Dr. Rafael M. Moscoso National Botanical Garden (JBN) celebrates the good results of one of the institutional actions that have strengthened its mission as guardian and promoter of the flora of the Dominican Republic: the valuable relationship it has maintained for decades with botanical gardens and foreign universities, as well as with renowned researchers around the world. Among them are the New York Botanical Garden, the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Montgomery Botanical Center, the Fairchild Botanical Garden, the University of Puerto Rico, the University of Southern Illinois and the University of Florida, in the United States. Also the Botanical Museum of Berlin in Germany, the Royal Botanic Gardens (KEW) in the United Kingdom and the National University of Mexico, among others. “These collaborations have been transversal to research, conservation and education, three strategic axes under which the JBN is governed”, indicates the biologist Betsaida Cabrera García. Numerous projects and publications are the result of this collaboration, contributing for decades to the increase of the country’s scientific heritage, points out the Seed Production and Management technique of the JBN.”The projects developed in the country have allowed a two-way exchange of knowledge, the acquisition of skills and better training by the technicians of the JBN”, he affirms. have facilitated the enrichment of the collections of the National Herbarium“where each year a large number of botanical specimens are collected by the team of the Department of Botany, led by the biologist Teodoro Clase, and in conjunction with foreign students and researchers.”
Francisco Jiménez, deputy technical director of the JBN, points out that the institution’s library is one of the largest documentation centers in the area of botany, ecology, conservation and ethnobotany in the Caribbean region, a product of the garden’s collections and the international exchange of scientific literature. Highlights the projects in conjunction with the Miami Botanical Garden, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and the Montgomery Botanical Center, as well as the work with the Mohamed bin Zayed Foundation, based in Abu Dhabi, which has supported them in palm conservation projects . Kew Gardens acted as an advisory entity in the creation of the JBN seed bank, the most complete in the Caribbean. One of the garden’s most recent publications, “Native Trees of the Dominican Republic: Conservation and Propagation Characteristics for Sustainable Reforestation,” is part of the KEW-funded “Safeguarding Threatened Forests of Hispaniola” project. Foreign researchers who travel to the fields and protected areas and collect for their research have also contributed to the JBN herbarium collection.
“With the New York Botanical Garden we have had a primary relationship in the exchange of specimens. International relations have also favored us in the identification of many species that we have had indeterminate,” says Jiménez. The Berlin Botanical Museum was the advisory sponsor, in matters of ethnobotany, of the Taíno Educational Path (through Marítima Dominicana). There , in Berlin, local technicians have been trained.The biologist Claritza de los Santos, in charge of the Department of Horticulture, highlights the courses and training here and abroad in which JBN technicians participate, thanks to international relations.
He points out that for the creation of the Red List of endangered species they received experts from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), “who trained us to make the different evaluations in the field of these species.” As Jiménez says, international relations were also key in the organization of the IX Latin American Botanical Congress, held in Santo Domingo in 2006. “There we had contact with many specialists from around the world and we hooked up many projects.”
Similarly, the JBN appreciates what the support and research of the American Thomas Zanoni, mentor of many Dominican botanists, represented for the country since 1980.
PUBLICATIONS. The good research work carried out at the JBN has allowed them to be part of important international publications, such as the Caribbean Plant Pharmacopoeia magazine. Regarding the garden magazine, Moscosoa, many international scientists show interest in publishing “because it is an important magazine in Latin America,” Jiménez points out. The dedication of species to Dominican scientists is another sign of the quality of the work carried out at the JBN. The garden is also part of the Latin American Botanical Association and the Herbarium Network of Mesoamerica. Jiménez, current local representative, is in charge of promoting the dissemination of local botanical research.
THIS MONDAY. As part of the celebration for its 46th Anniversary, this Monday, August 15, admission to the garden is free (except for the butterfly garden and the train ride). On Tuesday the 16th, work will be carried out at normal hours and on Wednesday the 17th the doors will open at noon, since the JBN will celebrate a thanksgiving mass in the morning and will reward the meritorious and long-standing servers.
BETWEEN THE BEST. When Kew Gardens included the Santo Domingo Botanical Garden among the 10 best in the world, at the end of the 1990s, there was no relationship between the two entities. “Kew did an evaluation of the world’s botanic gardens; they came and evaluated. We had no relationship with them then. They did that evaluation according to the components of each garden: the scientific research, the environmental education part, the conservation components, living collections, the green area, scientific publications…” explains Jiménez.
CURRENT MANAGEMENT. The director of the JBN is the engineer Pedro Nolasco Suárez, who has stated on several occasions that they are working so that the garden continues to be the favorite green space of the Dominican family.