Bogor Botanical Gardens celebrate 200th anniversary

Illustration. A number of visitors passed the row of kapok tree during a tour at the Bogor Botanical Gardens, West Java. (ANTARA PHOTOS / Arif Firmansyah)
Located in downtown Bogor, West Java, the Bogor Botanical Gardens, Indonesias oldest and largest botanical garden, celebrated its 200th anniversary on May 18 this year.

The celebration was marked by a series of activities, such as the issuance of the first-day cover of the special-edition stamps of orchids from 34 provinces along with a four-day plantation exhibition on May 18-21, the 200K Run on May 20-21, environmental education programs on May 19-21, fun bike event on Aug 20, an international seminar, art and cultural festivals, botanical photography contests, and sports competitions. 

Among several VIPs present during the celebration were former president Megawati Soekarnoputri in her capacity as chairperson of the Indonesian Botanical Garden Foundation, Communication and Informatics Minister Rudiantara, Chairman of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) Prof. Iskandar Zulkarnain, and Head of the Presidential Staff Teten Masduki. 

The Bogor Botanical Gardens are the largest center of off-site conservation and research on plant species in Indonesia, the botanical gardens spokesperson, Roniati A. Risna, stated recently.

"The Bogor Botanical Gardens have an area of about 87 hectares, with a total collection of 12,531 species of plants that are grouped into 3,228 species, 1,210 genera, and 214 families," she said. 

It boasts over 400 species of palm trees, five thousand trees from around the tropical world, and an orchid house containing three thousand varieties. 

The gardens are the pride of Indonesians, as they are also the oldest in Southeast Asia and the third-oldest in the world after the three-century-old Pandova Botanical Garden in Italy and the Royal Botanical Garden of Sydney in Australia, which had just turned 200 in 2016.

Initially, the botanical gardens served as the backyard of the Dutch colonial governors office, and currently, they have been transformed into one of Indonesias largest biological diversity study centers, Risna recalled.

The transformation was brought about at the initiative of Prof. C.G.C, Reinwardt, a German botanist, who on April 15, 1817, conveyed the suggestion to Dutch Colonial Governor in Batavia Baron van de Capellen.

Capellen had accepted the proposal and had given a plot of land in the backyard. On May 18, 1817, Reinwardt and Dr Carl Ludwig Blume, as first director of the botanical garden, along with the support of James Hooper and W. Kent, curators of Great Britains Kew Botanical Garden, inaugurated the development of the Bogor Botanical Gardens, which was at that time called "sLands Plantentuin te Buitenzorg." 

Blume had ordered to prepare an inventory of plants in the garden and found 912 species. 

In 1956, for the first time, the botanical garden had an indigenous Indonesian man named Sudjana Kassan as its director and was called Hortus Botanicus Bogoriensis.

Hortus Botanicus Bogoriensis was managed by LIPI, along with four others: Cibodas botanical garden, Purwodadi botanical garden, Balis Eka Karya botanical garden, and Cibinong Science Center, and Botani Garden.

President Joko Widodo, in a written message read out by Masduki, said that a botanical garden plays a significant role in serving as a conservation center and introducing and promoting Indonesias natural resources to the younger generation. Hence, he has called on every region to have a botanical garden. 

"Botanical gardens are not only plant conservation and research centers but also recreational places where families can introduce natural resources to their children. I hope other regions could replicate the Bogor Botanical Gardens," he noted.

Indonesia currently has 32 botanical gardens under the management of LIPI, while 26 others are being managed by regional administrations, and another is under the supervision of a university. Ideally, the country should have at least 47 botanical gardens.

LIPI Head Iskandar Zulkarnain explained that the Bogor Botanical Gardens have five functions, such as a plant conservation and research center, environmental education center, ecotourism, and environmental services. It has also contributed to the economy of the community.

Furthermore, it has become a reference for the development of botanical gardens in the regions, and that it could consequently improve the quality of Indonesias environment. 

Meanwhile, the Bogor Botanical Gardens are now serving the Secretary General of the International Botanic Garden (IABG) for the Asian region.

The Secretary General of the IABG chapter Asia is held by Head of the Plant Conservation Center of Botanical Garden Didik Widiyatmoko.

In addition, the Bogor Botanical Gardens are a member of the International Botanical Garden Conservation along with three thousand other botanical gardens across the world. 

The Bogor Botanical Gardens are open to tourists as well as domestic and foreign researchers from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time daily. 

However, during heavy rains and windy weather, the gardens close early to ensure the safety of visitors, as it is home to several large, old trees.

The cost per ticket is Rp15 thousand for domestic tourists and Rp25 thousand for foreigners.

Some 10 thousand people visit the botanical garden on weekends.(Antara)

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