Saving culture at risk
Art & Culture ▼Africa
SAVING THE CAPITAL OF BENIN'S BOTANICAL GARDEN
A relic of 3 sacred forests of Porto-Novo Kingdom dating from the seventeenth century, the Jardin des Plantes et de la Nature was, before the colonial era, a protected area hosting 630 plants species over 6 hectares. In 1895, under French settlers, this sacred forest was converted into a test garden and agricultural college. The garden then became a place for acclimatising useful and medicinal plants (rubber, cocoa, coffee, nutmeg, camphor, etc.). After the independence of Benin in 1960, the garden area was depleted to make space for an administrative buildings extension
and, with it, its biodiversity.
The botanical garden has lost 90% of its biodiversity (with only 53 out of the 630 varieties remaining today)
It lacks proper care and maintenance
Financial difficulties since 2016 mean the garden could be forced to close down
The botanical garden is the first initiative in Benin to set up a new type of museum and a place to host cultural events
Roll out new economic activities to ensure the botanical garden
can reach independent financial sustainability
Increase pedagogic visit rates by developing new educational communication and information material
Drive tourism by improving the garden's infrastructure (cafe, restaurant) and signage
Expand the number of technical staff of the garden's team
Boost the crop production and sale thereof
- Benin is a beautiful but poor country. The literacy rate is among the lowest in the world at 38.4%
- The garden is a key cultural magnet allowing people of Benin to discover the richness and beauty of their heritage
- The total amount needed to help this institution to become financially autonomous is €17,000 euros
- This project has an economic, environmental as well as educational impact
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Gael de Guichen
Gael de Guichen is a special adviser to the director of ICCROM, an intergovernmental agency, created by UNESCO which comprises of 135 countries and which focus is to preserve and restaure cultural heritage. He has done over 600 missions in member countries and has developed the concept of preventive conservation and created a fund for the preservation of cultural heritage in sub-saharian Africa.
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