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Critical record of Afghanistan's natural heritage blooms again
Date:4/16/2010

The Wildlife Conservation Society announced the restoration of Kabul University's herbariuma once-threatened collection of nearly 25,000 preserved plant specimensin a multi-partner effort that will vastly improve Afghan research capacity and inform decision-making regarding the future management and protection of Afghanistan's environment.

The herbarium restoration was organized by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) PEACE projecta consortium led by UC Davis and Texas A&M Universitytogether with several partners including WCS. Other partners included ECODIT-Biodiversity Support Program for the National Environmental Protection Agency and the Purdue University-A4 Project, all funded by USAID.

The herbarium survived destructive and repressive rule under the Taliban regime thanks to the efforts of Dr. Noor Ahmad Mirazai, a professor of botany at Kabul University. During Taliban rule, all government property was threatened with being destroyed in an effort to expunge "foreign influence." Dr. Mirazai meticulously moved the herbariumpredominantly collected and donated by scientists from Germany and Scotland in the 1960s and 1970sfrom room to room at the University and eventually to his home to safeguard it. He returned the collection to Kabul University when the Taliban's reign ended.

"WCS is proud to be a part of such great news coming out of a region that has suffered through much adversity and loss," said Colin Poole, Director of WCS's Asia program. "The actions taken by heroic individuals in the name of science and education are a tremendous inspiration to all associated with the project. We continue to see that through dedication and support for conservation work, Afghanistan's natural heritage can be preserved for future generations even in the most difficult of times."

The restored herbarium will be of immense benefit to researchers and other scientists, students, and teachers and provides extensive
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Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert

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