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National Biological Collections in Israel

National Biological Collections in Israel
Report of the Advisory Committee
to the Israel Academy of Sciences


The national biological collections in Israel have been facing existential problems for several years now. The great value of these collections as a cultural, scientific, research and teaching, exhibitory and industrial medium has brought many countries to the recognition of these collections as a national asset, and to the finding of national organizational and financial long-term solutions.
The problem of the biological collections in Israel has become more acute since the 1980s. Their importance is growing with the massive growth in urbanization, causing an ongoing disappearance of biological species, testimony to whose existence may be found only in biological collections.
The Israel Academy of Sciences has appointed a committee of experts on the topic. One of the results of its work was an annual grant by the Committee for Planning and Budgeting for Higher Education to the Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University, in order to provide for proper activity in the biological collections.
The committee pointed to some central problems:
- The gradual decline in the study and teaching of the biological diversity in Israel, and the falling number of next-generation workers.- The drop in activity in these precious collections puts their very existence at risk.- An urgent need to automate and computerize the collections.- Lack of university activity in research on taxonomy.
Suggested steps toward solutions:
- Emphasizing the national importance of these collections, and appealing to universities and national bodies for their support.
- Active fostering of the next generation.
- Active involvement of extra-academic, national and other bodies.
- Organizing the large body of knowledge in a computerized system
- e.g. the Geographical Information System - GIS.
- Developing a plan of action to be presented to the appropriate bodies, and conducting work in the collections according to this plan.
-  Finding ways to enhance the attractiveness and the chances for funding.
- Finding a national body to support the collections.
Summary and recommendations:
- The Committee is aware of the value of the biological collections and of the difficulties and fears mentioned above.
- It recommends the establishment of an inter
-university group to advance activities and mutual involvement.
- It recommends the appointment of an expert committee to examine the establishment of an optimal computerized system for the collections.
- The biological collections, as a national asset, must be kept within the responsibility of the universities.
- Support and upkeep of the collections must be institutionalized, in order to ensure their long-term existence.
Related publications: ד´´ר יוסי סגל