News - August 31, 2010

No planting for activists in botanical gardens

Activists are going to replant plant varieties which have disappeared from De Dreijen botanical gardens, but Wageningen UR throws a spanner in the works.

The planting activity is to be part of the opening of the new botanical year.  This is the activists' way of responding to the opening of the academic year next Monday, which carries the academic opening slogan 'Nature as the basis'.  What an audacity, comments activist Frank Zegers. 'Wageningen UR brandishes such calls from high above the tower, but it doesn't heed them at all on its own grounds.'
According to Zegers, part of the plant collection on De Dreijen has disappeared. Numerous signs point to plants which are no longer there, he says. But he does not know how many are still around. The demonstration will therefore start with excursions to take stock of the missing ones. The plan is to replant these missing varieties on Saturday 18 September. Interested parties would then be able to adopt a piece of the botanical gardens even. This would mean that they are in charge of making sure that the plant collection on that piece of garden stays intact in the future.
But if Wageningen UR can help it, this planting will not be carried out. 'There is no way that this activity be allowed to go on,' executive board spokesman Simon Vink says resolutely. 'It would be really ridiculous to allow third parties to plant on our land and even to adopt some of it. We have not asked for such contributions. The land is not public, but belongs to and is managed by Wageningen UR.' Vink expects Zegers to call off the demonstration. He does not want to go into any further steps which could be taken. 'The call has been issued; they would have to back off.'
Zegers - according to a press release - is acting on behalf of a group of Wageningers (Platform De Dreijen, initiator Ecowijk De Dreijen, various professors) who are worried about the management of the botanical gardens since Wageningen UR stopped managing both gardens scientifically. Zegers claims that the demonstration is being organized professionally, in coordination with the green management of Wageningen UR. Vink denies that permission has been granted. 'Moreover, green management doesn't have a hand in this.'