H.E. Ayoob M. Erfani today visited Vienna’s Museum of Natural History (NHM) where he met Dr. Ernst Vitek, Director of Botany, who showed the Ambassador around the museum, in the spirit of the museum’s fine tradition of strong external cooperation. The Museum regularly conducts external collecting expeditions, hence its Department of Botany holds specimen from all over the world, with its herbarium possessing numerous historically important collections.
Ambassador Ayoob Erfani met Dr. Ernst Vitek, Director of Botany at Vienna’s Museum of Natural History
Remarkably, it also holds the world’s largest collection of Afghan plant materials. Dr. Vitek explained his work in the library of the museum, where countless boxes can be found, each containing a dried and preserved plant, which has been identified and labelled, including information about its locality. In the 1960s, a botanist established a herbarium for Kabul University and another one for NHM. Ever since, Asia has ranked among NHM’s geographical focuses: The Orient, The Caucasus and the region of Flora Iranica. Mr. Ambassador Erfani emphasized the importance of enabling Kabul University with access to that database so that both academics and students can utilize it, with a view to adding new information as they continue to study the ecology of the country. There are about 20,000 plants of the Kabul University Herbarium, with a total of 70,000 plants from around the globe – all available online with images, presenting a great potential resource for the Agriculture Faculty, the Botany Faculty and other related faculties. Dr. Vitek generously indicated the Museum’s readiness to assist with instructions, by stating that he and his team would either be willing to travel to Kabul University to run a workshop on how to use the database, or else host a team from Kabul in Vienna to become conversant with the system.
Mr. Ambassador Erfani thanked Dr. Vitek for his time and both pledged to remain in close contact.
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