Field of Science

An Endangered Herbarium

A message that came through yesterday on the TAXACOM mailling list informs us that the University Board of Utrecht University in the Netherlands has announced plans to close the university herbarium as of the 1st of June, with access to the collections by researchers to cease immediately as of that date.

The Utrecht Herbarium holds a collection of over 800,000 specimens, including more than 10,000 type specimens. The central focus of research at the university is on plant biodiversity in tropical South America, particularly Suriname. Among the current research projects is investigation of the taxonomic identity of medicinal plants used in Suriname, information that will be vital in developing wider applications of the species involved.

The Utrecht Herbarium is part of the Nationaal Herbarium Nederland, which also includes branches at the Universiteit Leiden and the Wageningen University, and would have also been an significant part of the integrated Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity currently being developed. There are currently four PhD students among the staff at the herbarium.

For more information on the significance of the Utrecht Herbarium, and a petition against its closure and, go here. The website of the Utrecht Herbarium is here, and that of the Nationaal Herbarium Nederland is here. Other blog reactions to the closure can be found at Myrmecos and The Other 95%. I will endeavour to keep you all abreast of further developments.

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