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Date: 23 December 2010

The world’s largest fruit and berry collection is safe for now. All those who have been closely following the fate of the  Pavlovsk agricultural experimental station  [2], just outside St. Petersburg in Russia, will be pleased to know that the collection has been temporarily granted a reprieve and that guards have been stationed outside the collection’s premises to stop the bulldozers from coming in. Earlier this year the research station and its field collection were threatened with destruction  [3], when development plans were made to convert the land into a housing estate. A petition, started by the Global Crop Diversity Trust  [4], has now reached 50,000 signatures and has given this collection of 5500 unique varieties a fighting chance to win the legal battle against its obliteration. The crux of the matter is that “the Russian Land Code does not contain any reference to the Pavlovsk collection” states Cary Fowler, Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. “Due to international public pressure, an amendment to that law has been submitted to the Chairman of the lower house of parliament, the Duma, including a recommendation to give the station National Heritage status. We believe a revised Land Code is necessary to protect and settle issues of ownership of the Pavlovsk experimental station”. The final decision now rests with the President of the Russian Federation. “President Medvedev has shown himself to be sympathetic to the Pavolvsk fruit and berry collection”, continues Dr. Fowler. “He tweeted about Pavlovsk  [5] and his intervention stopped the bulldozers from coming in several months ago. He deserves our thanks for the interim moratorium. But, no permanent solution has been found, and President Medvedev remains under pressure to turn the land over to developers”. To keep the momentum high Cary Fowler strongly encourages those who have not yet done so to continue sending messages to President Medvedev in support of Pavlovsk and to sign the Petition  [6].

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