The Herbarium

Handling a budget of zero zero pesos. That is the budget which has the biologist Carlos Parra for general administration of the Herbario Nacional Colombiano, of the National University Natural Sciences Institute. Zero pesos, repeats this Professor with a doctorate in taxonomy Botany from the University of Melbourne. That is why his work in this institution, which has 75 years of history, is almost paralyzed. The University does not gives us money, the State neither. We have between 35 and 40 thousand specimens of flora in deposits, without registration, without available to research. Due to lack of resources.

The Herbarium is held open thanks to a job with fingernails. The money you receive comes from external services provided in studies of environmental impact or identification of plants. But it is very little. Parra – who since the year 2000 is linked as a professor at the Institute and from the year past manages the Herbarium – says that despite having presented various projects at the University, nobody sees the importance of rescuing these collections. For him, it is vital to preserve the task of the Herbarium, as a record of plants that exist in a country. And not only is registered, but to study their use. Today the collection has 550 thousand registered specimens.

The others, on deposits, at risk of deterioration from possible attacks by pests. The little silver entering them is destined for contracts persons who classified plants, no more than two or three employees. Touched me to put in my pocket to buy cardboard, glue, tape, says the biologist. Parra has detained projects. We could publish more, more inventory, do more explorations of field, because many species are still unknown, but there is no how. I am committed to my work, but the situation is frustrating.

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