With a focus on areas where no information on botanical diversity is presently available, the Missouri Botanical Garden and collaborators from Viet Nam will inventory the botanical richness from within sites in the northern provinces of Ha Giang, Lai Chau, and Son La. The forests in these areas exist only as vulnerable fragments and no collections have ever been gathered. These explorations will collect herbarium specimens and floristic data supporting detailed descriptions of the flora and vegetation.
The Missouri Botanical Garden was first invited to visit Viet Nam in 1994 after the 15th International Botanical Congress in Yokohama, Japan. Dr. Daniel Harder of the Garden met with biologists from the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources (IEBR) within the National Center for Natural Science and Technology (NCST) to initiate discussions of the establishment of collaborative ties between our institutions.
A formal agreement soon followed. Subsequent botanical explorations by other Garden botanists have yielded incredible discoveries and contributed greatly to our presently incomplete understanding of the flora of Viet Nam.
The Ho Chi Minh City Zoo and Botanical Gardens was founded by JB Louis Pierre, a famous French botanist. The park was opened in 1865 on a 20-ha area.Saigonese like to call the park So thu. In Vietnamese it means "the zoological park". Its official name however is the Thao Cam Park. In Vietnamese "Thao" means "plants and trees" and "Thu" means "animals": indicating that the park has both plants and animals.
Construction of the park started in March 1864 and it was opened in May 1865. Originally the park was solely concerned with the growing of some imported industrial plants such as cacao, coffee, vanilla and rubber, as well as collecting exotic animals and birds from tropical Vietnam for zoos in France. The Park's first director, J.B. Louis Pierre, worked very hard for twelve years on the development of the park. At the turn of the century, the press praised the Park as one of the most beautiful parks in the Far East, second only to the Zoological and Botanical Garden in Singapore. However, from 1942 to 1954, the Japanese and French armies in turn used Thao Cam Park as their barracks. During these twelve years the cages were damaged and many animals and birds died from lack of care. At this time also, many established old trees were cut down.
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