(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
Eighty years ago, when the first trees were planted in Hebrew University’s Botanical Garden on Mount Scopus, no one could foresee that a university construction plan would threaten the site eight decades later. These plans are now gnawing away at the eastern edges of the garden,, entailing the removal of the special nursery, where the staff will propagate rare and endangered plant species to a different location as yet unspecified. A new building that will occupy part of the nursery will change the physical conditions experienced by plants growing in nearby plots, casting partial shade that will damage the remarkable habitats that characterize the entire garden. If we factor in the dust that the construction work will create, it becomes clear that the entire plant population of the garden will suffer for a prolonged period of time.
The Mount Scopus Botanical Garden’s annual study day included guided tours of the site during which senior staff members described the delicate environmental balance that allows the garden to survive at present and the unique natural conditions that have been
painstakingly created in it. The garden is divided into 22 habitats that represent most of the ecological niches, defined by region and soil type, that occur naturally within the State of Israel. As the new post-1967 Mount Scopus Hebrew University campus was established on a part of the Botanical Garden, no space was left for the creation of a plot representing, for example, the vegetation of Mount Hermon.
The newly restored Mount Scopus Botanical Garden and Nicanor Courtyard is a joint project of KKL-JNF and the Hebrew University, enabled through the generous support of Stephen and Gail Victor, friends of KKL-JNF and the Hebrew University from Ottawa, Canada.
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