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Hortus prefect visits Indonesia on knowledge mission

Hortus prefect Paul Keßler was a part of the delegation of Leiden researchers that traveled to Indonesia on a knowledge mission. In two weeks, he visited seven different universities and institutes and of course he also went to see three botanical gardens.

Indonesian pavement plants

The programme included lectures, workshops, dinner parties and more. For example, Keßler gave a lecture about the pavement plant project of the Hortus botanicus Leiden. Urban biodiversity is being embraced by multiple universities, Keßler notes, and the succesful application of citizen science within this PhD study attracted a lot of interest. How do you get the local people involved, so that they collect data and join the conversation on city nature?

Jasper Knoester signs the memorandum of understanding


Of course, botanical gardens couldn't be missing from the itinerary of the director of the botanical garden of Leiden. Keßler visited the gardens in Bogor, Cibinong and Purwodadi. Here, the expertise on Southeast Asian botany of the Hortus botanicus Leiden was welcomed with open arms. Topic of conversation was partnerships: laws and regulations make it difficult to exchange living material, which means that researchers will have to pay visits to each other for some research projects.

Partnerships with institutes of biology and silviculture were also investigated and prepared. For example, Jasper Knoester, Dean of the Faculty of Science, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Faculty of Biology of Universitas Gadjah Mada.

The botanical garden of Bogor

A personal history

For Keßler, Indonesia is a well-known destination: he has been there dozens of times since his first visit in 1988. And while the knowledge mission had a full programme, there was also enough time to meet old friends and colleagues. He met fellow botanists that he hadn't seen for decades and had dinner with a Leiden alumna who conducted her master's thesis research on orchids in the glasshouses in Leiden. That was the best part of the trip, says Keßler with a smile: the connection you experience with other people that have the same passion.

Text: Emma Knapper

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