A collection of over 5,000 plants is to be dismantled to make way for housing development outside of St. Petersburg, Russia. As a part of Pavlovsk Research Station, it is currently the largest repository for European fruits and berries in the world.
This week, an arbitration court in Moscow rejected an appeal by the Pavlovsk Research Station to maintain control of the land on which the repository is situated until all the samples can be properly relocated.
Constructed in 1926 and run by the N.I. Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry, the repository serves to protect crop diversity and is a resource in creating new plant variants.
It is believed that around 90 percent of the samples at the Pavlovsk plant bank no longer exist anywhere else in the world.
Cary Fowler of the Global Crop Diversity Trust said the housing plan is the “most deliberately destructive act against crop diversity, at least in my lifetime.”
Plans to destroy the repository may executed as early as September 23, but experts say it would take 10 to 15 years to safely move all the plants to another location.
UPDATE (8/18): The Guardian reports that President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered an immediate inquiry into the case.