On the International Day for Biological Diversity the State Secretary of the Nature and Environment Protection at the Ministry of Environment and Water, held a press conference. Student journalists, trained by professional journalists last year at our IBD celebrations, were invited to participate at the press conference. They are of great help in spreading biodiversity-related information among other students.
This year a topic was chosen, which was linked to the official theme of IBD and also to Hungary’s natural flora and fauna as well as its agricultural biodiversity. The conservation of traditional plant varieties and landraces adapted to different environmental, climatic and geographical conditions are of great importance regarding adaptation to climate change. Therefore, a nation-wide competition titled “Let’s Look Around In Our Neighbourhood!” was launched on 22 May 2007.
The task of the students was to look around and record what kind of traditional crop, fruit and vegetable varieties can still be found in the kitchen gardens of their villages/towns. Students needed to collect what is the traditional/local name of the certain variety, what are the characteristic features of the plant, why people grow/plant that variety or whether there is any specific cultivation method. During the survey they have the possibility to learn the experiences and knowledge of the “wise old” people living in the countryside.
The deadline for the competition is St Márton’s day (11 November 2007), which is the last day of the agricultural period. The coming summer and autumn months will give students enough time to visit the neighbouring gardens and villages, interview the owners and growers of traditional and local varieties, take photos of the plant specimens and collect the fruits harvested in autumn. The experts from the Hungarian Research Center for Agrobotany, which is the institute with nation-wide responsibility for the technical coordination of plant genetic resources collections, will help students in determining plant varieties.
On the occasion of the IBD and by the help of the Research Center for Agrobotany, a colourful temporary seed exhibition of traditional Hungarian crops (maize, wheat, lens, beans, oat, rye etc.) was also opened in the Green Gallery of the Ministry of Environment and Water.