On April 29, during a working visit to Saratov, the Chairman of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin visited the Botanic Garden Education and Research Centre of Saratov University. He proposed to develop a project for the development of the Botanical Garden not only for science but also for public. The meeting was attended by Governor of Saratov Region Valerii Radaev, SSU Rector Aleksei Chumachenko, the employees of the Botanical Garden, and media representatives.
During the conversation, the rector noted that at the very beginning of its development, only oaks grew on the territory of the current Botanic Garden, which are now about 100 years old, the rest of the collection trees, shrubs and herbs were planted later by the Botanic Garden employees. The total area of the garden is almost 18 hectares. In the 90s, many plants died, but, according to Aleksei Chumachenko, the collection of cultures listed in the Red Book, was restored and augmented.
‘Of the rare plants that we have managed to preserve – the Volga maikaragan, we planted it in several districts of our region; the water walnut, planted by our employees, now grows along the Bear and Khopyor. The employees are doing a lot of scientific work. So, for example, 37 species of rare plants are stored in the microcloning laboratory, work is underway to restore their numbers in nature, including in Saratov Region. There are 54 universities in the country that have a botanical garden in their structure. The uniqueness of our facility lies in the fact that wild-growing steppe vegetation is collected here, there is no such fund in any higher educational institution in Russia,’ Aleksei Chumachenko explained.
‘The Botanical Garden is a natural monument. Such an object is the property of any world-class university. Our task is to do everything to help the botanical garden develop, improve its infrastructure and make it more open for the city's residents,’ Vyacheslav Volodin noted. The exception will be experimental nurseries and departments for the cultivation of plants listed in the Red Book.
According to Vyacheslav Volodin, it is necessary to modernize the irrigation system, improve the pedestrian zone, install protective structures for plants and a video monitoring system.
Within the project, it is planned to add small architectural forms to the existing landscape, equip a meteorological site installed in the Botanical Garden, an overhead passage, an open-air lecture hall and much more. Work on the project will begin in 2021. The most important thing that should be taken into account during its implementation, so that an object of regional importance performs, first of all, its main function – the preservation and growth of rare plant species.
The staff of the Botanical Garden conducted a tour of the departments of the Botanical Garden. The head of the State Duma was shown the third edition of the Red Book of the Saratov Region, rare herbarium specimens, the collection of which totals 18 thousand sheets. The fund is available for familiarization to specialists in this field.
The distinguished guest also visited the laboratory of microclonal reproduction of plants, where the genetic bank of rare and endangered plant species of the Saratov region in vitro is located. In the collection of 19 species, 15 genera of 12 families are included in the Red Book of the Russian Federation.
The participants of the meeting examined part of the garden and got acquainted with rare and relict plant species. For example, magnolias, representatives of one of the oldest genera of flowering plants, appeared in all their glory with blossoming buds and now serve as a true decoration of the garden.
Since 1982, the SSU Botanical Garden has been included in the list of specially protected natural areas of regional significance in the Saratov region. It includes a department of dendrology, a department of plant biology and ecology, a department of flora and vegetation, a department for the introduction of floral and ornamental crops, a laboratory for microclonal plant reproduction, molecular biology and cytogenetics, an experimental nursery. The collection fund of the garden contains plants from different regions of the Earth. Along with research work in the field of introduction and acclimatization, protection and rational use of the flora, the structure performs an educational function. On the basis of the garden, educational practice of university students takes place, graduation papers and dissertations are being prepared.