Jardín Botánico "Arturo E. Ragonese”
Hurlingham, Buenos Aires, Argentina
The "Arturo E. Ragonese” Botanic Gardens (JBAER) belongs to the Institute of Biological Resources, Centre of Natural Resources, within the National Centre of Agricultural Research, National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA), Castelar. It is located in the current County of Hurlingham, at 34° 40’ S, 58° 39’ W, in the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, 30 km West of the Federal Capital.
The Botanic Garden has an extension of 26,8 ha, at 22 m over sea level, a general flat topography, with light undulations sloping to the NW, crossed by Forletti Brook in its West end, with loamy to clay-loamy, shallow, neutral pH soil. The natural vegetation is a grassland with scarce edaphical communities of small trees. The climate is temperate, with 1,050 mm of annual average rainfall, absolute minimum temperature of -7.8 °C, absolute maximum temperature of 40.5 °C and average temperature of 16.3 °C. The annual average relative humidity is 72 %.
By the end of the nineteenth Century, prospecting for and introduction of economic plants in Argentina was undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Around 1947 Ing. Agr. Arturo E. Ragonese (1909-1992) established a “Botanic Garden for the Introduction and Acclimatisation of Plants”, and the plantation of the first specimens for the Systematic Section of the Living Collection began in a 27 ha extension belonging to the National Centre of Agricultural Research (CNIA) in Castelar.
The living and preserved plant collections were use for multiple purpose and they constitute a unique collection supported by the taxonomic identification of specialists. This project was possible beacuse almost 60 people were working in the Garden, between scientists, the horticulturist that managed the living collection and gardeners where plants coming from around the world received an intensive care. . The living collection held about 3,500 taxa that provide material for the research on Taxonomy, Plant Breeding, Phytochemistry, and other potential uses of plants.
In 1997, alter years of abandon and a failed experience of private administration, Dra. Ana María Molina was appointed director of the garden. She started the a “Project for the Re-activation of the Botanic Garden”, naming the garden “Arturo E. Ragonese”, as a posthumous homage to its creator and the search for sponsors began and ended in 2003 when a grant awarded by the Investing in Nature-Argentina Programme for the period 2004-2007 was obtained. This grant will allow building the visitor centre, offices and a laboratory, to restore and develop the living collection, to develop conservation and environmental education programmes, and to open the garden to the public.
The Botanic Gardens belongs to the Institute of Biological Resources, INTA Castelar, so it has access to a multiple use room, herbarium, seed and “in vitro” banks, library, glasshouses and an aromatic plants lab. The current facilities of the nursery of the Botanic Garden are two glass houses (25 m x 6 m each), a shade frame, outdoor beds, a room for drying and storing seeds and tools, stores and a shed.
The living collection is divided into two sections, the Systematic Section occupies 10 ha, where the plants are ordered in beds by family. The Phytogeographic Section comprises the Phytogeographic Formations representing the most characteristic elements of the Natural Regions of Argentina, such as the Papean Grassland, the Chaco dry broadleaf forest and savannah, the Mesopotamian forest, the Paranaense rainforest and the gallery forest. There are other collections that include the representatives of Edaphical Plant Communities: halophilous, psammophilous, swampy and rock-dwelling species, plus characteristics formations
Director, 3 investigadores profesionales a cargo de investigación, conservación, manejo de la colección viva, laboratorio de plantas aromáticas y capacitación, 8 profesionales honorarios: biólogo investigador, arquitecta, ingeniero civil, comunicadora visual, bióloga experta en educación, consultora en Gestión de Proyectos y grupos de apoyo y dos consultores en Educación, 1 jardinero, 4 pasantes universitarios y 2 voluntarias.
As it belongs to the Institute of Biological Resources, INTA Castelar, the garden is currently manager by researcher with a great experience in the taxonomic study of the Argentine native flora, the conservation and utilization of genetic resources, and teaching at university level, as well. They also had an important role in the restoration Project development. At present additional staff is been required. The “Arturo E. Ragonese” Botanic Garden is member of BGCI, and it has registered its contribution to implement the International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation. As the chair of the Argentine Botanic Garden Network (RAJB) the Gardens has organized many events and training activities (see RAJB page).
The scientific research priorities of the botanic garden will be the studies on native, rare, threaten, endemic and useful species: native aromatic species, forage and ornamental grasses, ancient Andean crops, timber species, medicinal species and native orchids.
There is a close relationship between the research and conservation programmes of the Instituto de Recursos Biológicos and those of the “Arturo E. Ragonese” Botanic Garden, constituting an important centre for germplasm conservation of INTA, which includes a Base Seed Bank and 7 Active Seed Banks distributed around the country. Several projects in collaboration with other institutions are being carried out, between them with Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires, Universidad Nacional de Jujuy, Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Universidad de Morón, Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica (CNEA), Research Institutes of Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), the Federación Civil de Orquideófilos de la República Argentina (F.O.R.A.), Administración de Parques Nacionales (APN) and Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina (FVSA).
The “Arturo E. Ragonese” Botanic Garden has an enormous potential of visitors due to its privileged location, 30 km West of the Capital and the easy access, representing one of the few and invaluable “green lungs” and biological reserves in the Great Buenos Aires, the region with the highest population density in the country.
It belongs to a major research centre, so it has access to all its facilities and experience to carry out research and “ex situ” conservation projects, and to support “in situ” conservation.
Located in an area with the highest population in the country, its education activities Hill have a great impact to rise awareness in the community about the important role of plants in our every day life and the urgency for their conservation and sustainable use.
Besides, the “Arturo E. Ragonese” Botanic Garden is the chair of the Argentina Botanic Garden Network (RAJB) that was created in 1996 and co-ordinates the activities of the 46 botanic gardens in the country, already existing or proposed.
The “Arturo E. Ragonese” Botanic Garden is involved in the Investing in Nature Programme that funds the building of the main building which will include a visitor centre, offices and a lab, and the restoration of the living collection. The opening to the public is planned for the end of 2005.
Courses on earthworm culture, recycling, weeds, orchids, forestry, landscaping and gardening, organic culture, soil conservation, biologic control, etc., are planned. And to become a training centre on the subjects related to sustainable use, management, propagation and protection of plants, habitats and landscape design, to support the other botanic gardens in Argentina and to exchange experiences with other gardens around the World through the local network.
To restore the “Arturo E. Ragonese” Botanic Garden, so as a revitalized major institution it will fulfil its Mission:
“To enlarge the knowledge and appreciation on plants through Scientific Research, Environmental Education and Conservation of the Biological Diversity in order to contribute to the effective conservation and sustainable use of the environment".
"To provide a place to enjoy nature, relax and learn in order to contribute to improve the life quality of the community”,
bringing benefits to its local surroundings, the country and the World.
The Province of Buenos Aires, in addition to have the highest population density in the country, is the region whose natural ecosystems, the Pampean grasslands, are the most endangered ones because most of them have been replaced by crops or cultivated pastures. The “Arturo E. Ragonese” Botanic garden will contribute to the conservation of that important ecosystem, and of threatened species from other regions in the country as well.
* By Dr. Ana María Molina, Director, “Arturo E. Ragonese” Botanic Garden.
For more information on the “Arturo E. Ragonese” Botanic Garden please check its record on the Garden Search database or click here.