Scientists barred from disputed plots of land with famous plant collection

Scientists barred from disputed plots of land with famous plant collection

07:06 28/08/2010                                                      © RIA Novosti. Alexei Danichev

A housing construction development fund in St. Petersburg, which was granted ownership over disputed land with a unique plant collection, barred scientists from the land.

The Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry and its Pavlovsk station are trying to retain two plots of land of 71 and 19 hectares that has already been given to the fund by the Russian State Property Management Agency. The land contains a collection of rare specimens of fruit and berries that cannot be seen in wildlife.

Scientists earlier expressed hope that they would be allowed to continue using the land.

“He [the director of the fund’s local branch, Nikita Stepanov] has sent me a letter, in which he prohibits the Pavlovsk station and me, the director, to appear at our collection of fruit and berries, saying this is their property and I must stay away from it,” the station’s acting director Fyodor Mikhovich said.

He said Stepanov accused him of “violating the property rights.”

The Pavlovsk collection conserves varieties and wild relatives that are extinct elsewhere. Almost all of these – more than 90% – are not available in other collections. If they are destroyed at Pavlovsk, they are gone forever, scientists say.

MOSCOW, August 28 (RIA Novosti)