AT RISK OF DISAPPEARING-THE INSTITUTO DE CIENCIAS NATURALES AND ITS LEGACY (1937-2005)

Carlos Sarmiento cesarmiento at YAHOO.COM
Thu Apr 7 12:18:15 CDT 2005


AT RISK OF DISAPPEARING-THE INSTITUTO DE CIENCIAS
NATURALES AND ITS LEGACY (1937-2005)

An open letter to colleagues-from the Professors of
the Instituto de Ciencias Naturales of the Universidad
Nacional de Colombia in reaction to the immanent risk
of the disappearance of the Instituto owing to new
policies adopted by the central administration of the
Universidad. Bogotá (Colombia), April 1, 2005
www.icn.unal.edu.co

The Instituto de Ciencias Naturales of the Universidad
Nacional de Colombia finds itself in grave risk of
being eliminated. The Institute has had a large impact
on the study and analysis of the biodiversity of
Colombia, one of the planet's most diverse countries.
The Institute is the legal depository of biological
and archeological vouchers of this richness.

The collections of the Institute include the Colombian
National Herbarium (COL)-the major herbarium in
Colombia and one of the largest in Latin America-the
zoological collections-with the most complete samples,
in the world, of the Colombian diversity of
amphibians, birds, crabs, fishes, insects, mammals,
reptiles, spiders, and terrestrial snails-and the
paleoecological collections, which document past use
of the ecosystems by aboriginal Americans.

The grave threat emerging for the Instituto de
Ciencias Naturales, custodian of this entire heritage
during nearly 70 years stems from the fact that
the central administration of the University is
engaged in its disarticulation by eliminating or
reassigning all the staff dedicated to the Institute.

This proposed action means that the researchers
currently engaged in the generation of knowledge, the
formation of new generations of biodiversity
researchers, the curation and enrichment of the
approximately 850,000 specimens, see the harmonic
development of their activities and their
organizational structure is effectively at an end.

In practice, this will lead to the gradual
deterioration and the inevitable loss of information
associated with the collections and in only a few
years the complete loss of all that has accumulated in
70 years. Such a loss will seriously impair the
capacity of the country to respond to sustainable
development. A country cannot develop if its
intellectual base (knowledge of its biota) depends
principally upon ignorance of those natural resources.


Given this situation, we respectfully appeal to our
colleagues within the country and across the world to
offer us your assistance in trying to convince the
actual administrators of this University that the
maintenance of a staff consisting of permanent
professors is the only means of guaranteeing the
continuity of efforts to document the biodiversity of
a megadiverse country such as Colombia and to enrich,
curate, and study these collections for the benefit of
the country.

Please, send a message to the Consejo Superior
Universitario expressing your point of view about this
administrative process and attempting to persuade
the members of the Consejo of the magnitude of the
consequences of their proposed action. With the help
of many persons from diverse institutions, we hope to
reverse this historical error.

The few minutes that you would need to invest in
writing a message can save 70 years of dedication by
many botanists, biologists, archaeologists, and
zoologists.

Thank you.

Please direct your message to:

Consejo Superior Universitario
Universidad Nacional de Colombia
secgener at unal.edu.co

Dra. Cecilia María Vélez. Ministra de Educación
Nacional
roychacon at mineducacion.gov.co

Dr. Marco Palacios. Rector Universidad Nacional de
Colombia
rectoriaun at unal.edu.co

Dr. Ramón Fayad. Secretario General Universidad
Nacional de Colombia
rfayadn at unal.edu.co

Dr. Moisés Wasserman. Decano Facultad de Ciencias.
Universidad Nacional
de
Colombia (Sede Bogotá)
decanatur_fcbog at unal.edu.co

Dra. Gloria A. Galeano. Directora Instituto de
Ciencias Naturales.
Universidad Nacional de Colombia
inscien_bog at unal.edu.co


Carlos E. Sarmiento-M.
Instituto de Ciencias Naturales
Universidad Nacional de Colombia
A. A. 52656, Bogota, Colombia



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