The Silesian Botanical Garden was founded as an Association of Societies and Institutions in May 2003. The idea to create a botanical garden in Mikolow arose in 1997. The impulse the led to its creation was a natural resource survey performed in 1996 was which showed that Mokre, a district of Mikolow, contains a unique natural environment. On an area of 5 km2 a wealth of habitats has survived: valuable forest stands of Fiolkowa Gora and two stream valleys: Promna and Jasienica; wetlands and farmlands with contour buffer strips which are now becoming increasingly rare, limestone excavation pits, ravines and hills, and hundreds of species of plants and animals, including rare and protected ones. Nowadays, such a wide array of habitats is seldom found together within a single area. This location turned out to be perfect for the creation of a botanical garden, one that is mostly arranged by nature itself. It was therefore unnecessary to recreate natural habitats which is so often the case with botanical gardens founded within cities.
foto Mirosław Wąsiński
In 2003 the Silesian Botanical Garden Union of Associations was founded – the entity formally responsible for the construction of the Garden. A crucial moment came in 2006, when, by a decision of the Ministry of the Environment, the Union of Associations was given permission to open the Silesian Botanical Garden. For all these years many people contributed to the creation of this place which would become the green island within the industrial and urbanized Silesia; an institution which would attempt not only to protect nature, but to be a meeting place and an environment suitable for exchanging ideas on all subjects: culture, philosophy, social issues… Finally, the idea was to create a friendly and open space for everyone who simply needs rest and a break from the fast-paced city life.
Now we can proudly say that these goals were met and the Silesian Botanical Garden, which now has an area of almost 100 ha, has secured its place in the landscape of Upper Silesia and in the minds of its inhabitants.
Many people and institutions had their part in the formation of the SiBG. The would be no garden if not for the effort and dedication of Prof. Wieslaw Wloch, Prof. Jerzy Puchalski and Prof. Stanislaw Wika, and for successive mayors of Mikolow. A great role in the formation of SiBG was also played by successive marshals of the Silesian Voivodeship, which had their part in the determination of its current legal and organizational status and in the transfer of land for the botanical garden from the Agricultural Property Agency of the State Treasury.
The location of the SiBG is a great asset, as it is found only about 10 miles from the Katowice downtown, which is the center of the Upper Silesia conurbation, right next to the main communication route leading to the southern border of the country. This central location guarantees a convenient access from all directions.
The structure of the Silesian Botanical Garden is based on five departments: Department of Scientific, Conservation and Decorative Collections, Department of Habitat Collections, Department of Ecological and Environmental Education, Department of Adaptive Systems and Department of the Silesian Ecological Calendar.
The mission of the Botanical Garden is to protect and preserve the endangered plant species of the Upper-Silesia region form the future generations. The mission of the Garden is realized through the creation of a space for the conservation of Silesia’s biodiversity and of all of the temperate climatic zone for the good of contemporary and future generations; the presentation of plant collections which enables the public to learn about protected species; scientific research; active participation in the propagation of pro-ecological attitudes and information on the methods of biodiversity conservation amongst the inhabitants of the region. These action have been supported from the very beginning of the Garden’s existence by The Voivodeship Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management in Katowice.
The Garden boasts a number of collections, ranging from the dendrological, habitat-based, and decorative to herbal ones.
The institution is also involved in environmental and nature-based education, instigating meetings directed at a variety of age groups. Classes and workshops for children and teenagers are held in interesting nature spots, where the ‘nature stories’ formula leaves room to move beyond theory and get involved with its practical applications.
The Garden also hold various competitions and projects relating to nature conservation, and are a scientific activity. The Silesian Botanical Garden is supported by the cities of the Silesian Voivodeship, the University of Silesia, the Silesian University of Technology and Polish Academy of Sciences. The Silesian Botanical Garden is also a research institute with the cooperation of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) and many universities and botanical gardens. Also, the SiBG hosts the Institute of Plant Structure created by the Polish Academy of Sciences Botanical Garden – Center for Biological Diversity Conservation in Warsaw-Powsin.
Scientific conferences, regional, national and international, are organized in the SiBG. Imporantly, the Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta has its seat in the SiBG, and since 2011 the Director of the SiBG is the head of the Association.
The mission of the Silesian Botanical Garden is active biodiversity conservation through the cultivation of rare and endangered species of plants and their transfer from cultivated areas to their proper habitats, the preservation of valuable yet diminishing field and meadow cultures and old varieties of fruit trees. Furthermore, an important activity of the SiBG are ecological and environmental educational initiatives for children, youth and adults.
The mission of the Garden is realized through the creation of a space for the conservation of Silesia’s biodiversity and of all of the temperate climatic zone for the good of contemporary and future generations; the presentation of plant collections which enables the public to learn about protected species; scientific research; active participation in the propagation of pro-ecological attitudes and information on the methods of biodiversity conservation amongst the inhabitants of the region. These action have been supported from the very beginning of the Garden’s existence by The Voivodeship Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management in Katowice.
The seat of the SiBG since May 2012 is the Center for Ecological and Environmental Education of the Silesian Botanical Garden. The object was created thanks to a subsidy from the European Regional Development Fund within the action 5.5. „The natural heritage” of the Regional Operational Programme of the Silesian Voivodeship for the years 2007-2013 „Infrastructure and Environment”. An abandoned military base on Sosnia Gora hill (329 m above sea level) was adapted for this purpose. The abandoned bunkers-garages were turned into the main building of the Center which contains the administrative infrastructure of the Silesian Botanical Garden, conference rooms, scientific laboratories and the library. The building is topped with a viewing tower which is 14 meters high and from which there is a picturesque view of Upper Silesia and Beskidy mountains. The Center is surrounded by a park with a three-level playground constructed out of ecological and user-friendly materials which is open for children of all age. There are 15 ha of plant collections (14 in total, including habitat collections, a phenological garden, rhododendrons, grasses and ericaceous plants) and 3 kilometers of recreational and educational trails.