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The Preservation and Development of Biological Collections in Israel

Report of the Special Committee
for the Preservation and Development
of Biological Collections in Israel

Background:Since the beginning of the last century, work has been carried out over the years on collecting and cataloging the biological plentitude of Palestine. The bulk of the collections is kept in two universities:
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv University.
In both universities there has been a reduction over time in academic appointments in the areas of these collections, and neglect in their maintenance. Thus, the national biological collections face an existential problem.
The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanitie -  aware of the great importance of the collections as a source of basic knowledge for documentation and research of the flora and fauna in Palestine, for the understanding of the biological variety and biological divergence, and for the study of evolutionary processes on the level of the organism - has recognized these as National Collections.
Out of concern for the existing collections, their maintenance and development and their availability for study and research, the Academy has appointed over the years several committees to examine this topic.
In 2000, in consultation with the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education, the Academy appointed a Committee for National Projects, and this committee appointed a Special Committee to examine the topic.
The Special Committee presented the following report:
1. The biological collections should be recognized as national collections, deposited in the hands of the universities.
2. Management of the collections: A joint committee will be appointed for the management of the collections at both universities.
This committee will coordinate activities, encourage cooperative studies, recommend appointments to various positions in the collections, and promote the establishment of a national computerized program for the collections.
3.  Each university is independent in determining appointments to the collections. However, the Committee recommends three levels of appointment: workers at the collections, collection managers, and Curator of the collection (a professor, senior lecturer or lecturer).
4.  Computerization of the biological collections is being carried out at present.
5.  Positions: The Committee recommends that the Planning and Budgeting Committee finance three positions at each collection. The financial commitment of each university will not fall below the present level (as noted by the Kadmon Committee).
6.  Research funds: The Committee recommends that the Israel Science Foundation add to the lists of the areas it finances the fields of Taxonomy and Systematics.
7.  Personnel training: The Committee recommends that young scientists be sent abroad for post-doctoral studies in these fields, and academic positions will be assured  for these areas.
8.  Building: Tel Aviv University has decided to erect a dedicated building for its collections. The Committee recommends that the Hebrew University add another floor to its collections building. The Committee recommends that the Planning and Budgeting Committee participate financially in funding these building projects.
9.  Additional operational budgeting; The Committee recommends that the Planning and Budgeting Committee increase its annual budgeting for the collections.
10.Collections in other institutions: The Committee recommends that a way be found to examine collections at other institutions, with the aim of including them in the national collections. It is also recommended to examine the possibility of including the botanical gardens of both universities and the zoological collection in Tel Aviv University in the national collection setup.
11.Concentration of collections: The aim should be to concentrate the national  biological collections at one university.
Related publications: ד´´ר יוסי סגל