BEN # 56

Adolf Ceska aceska at CUE.BC.CA
Mon Jun 7 13:03:31 EST 1993

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No. 56                            June 6, 1993

Address: aceska at         Victoria, B.C.


Professor  Vladimir  Krajina died on May 31, 1993, at the age of
88, in Vancouver. Born on  January  30,  1905  in  Slavice  near
Trebic  (now  Czech  Republic), he received his doctorate degree
from Charles University in Prague in 1927.  During  his  student
days  he described Pinguicula bohemica, a new species endemic to
central Bohemia.

In 1934 Krajina was appointed Associate Professor  in  Geobotany
and  Plant  Systematics  at  Charles  University  in Prague. His
habilitation work "Die Pflanzengesellschaften des  Mlynica-Tales
in  den  Vysoke  Tatry  .."  was  published  in the Beihefte zum
Botanischen Centralblatt in 1933 and 1934. "Though a product  of
a  single  scholar,  this  monograph excels in its (1) universal
view of subalpine and alpine plant life, (2) balanced evaluation
of both phanerogamic  and  cryptogamic  plants,  (3)  year-round
observations  and measurements of climatic and soil factors, and
(4) integrated phytosociological synthesis  ...  of  plant  com-
munities in the territory under study" (Jenik, 1992).

During the Second World War, universities in Bohemia and Moravia
were  closed  and Krajina became one of the leaders of the Czech
underground resistance movement. He was the first one to  estab-
lish  radio contact with the Czech government in exile (based in
England). During his underground activity he supplied the  West-
ern  Allies with vital intelligence information. He was captured
by the Nazi's in 1943 and barely escaped execution.

After the war Krajina became a Full  Professor  at  the  Charles
University  in  Prague and the Head of the Geobotany Department.
He was also elected  to  the  Czechoslovak  parliament.  As  the
General Secretary of the main opposition party he fought against
the  Communist  Party  and  their intrigues. After the communist
takeover of Czechoslovakia in February 1948, Krajina had to flee
Czechoslovakia and seek political refuge in  Canada.  The  first
note  about  the  communist  coup  that  was  published  in Time
Magazine mentioned Vladimir Krajina and  the  note  clearly  il-
lustrates the danger Krajina was facing:
"  Armed  police  raided and sacked headquarters of the National
Socialist Party, seeking the party's secretary general, Vladimir
Krajina. But Krajina, who still had parliamentary immunity,  was
not arrested just yet." [Time March 1, 1948]

Krajina was sentenced (in absentia) to 25 years of imprisonment,
and  some of his close allies (most notably Dr. Milada Horakova)
were executed.

Dr. Krajina started to teach in the Department of Botany at  the
University  of  British  Columbia in Vancouver as a Special Lec-
turer in 1949, and became Assistant Professor in 1951, Associate
Professor in 1954, and  Full  Professor  in  1958.  In  1973  he
retired  but  as  Professor Emeritus he continued his scientific

Two main themes can  characterize  Krajina's  broad  and  varied
botanical interests in Canada:

 1. botanical  exploration  of  British Columbia, especially the
    study of plant communities and ecosystems, and

 2. nature conservation in British Columbia.

The first theme culminated in Krajina's system of biogeoclimatic
zones. Krajina and his many students sampled and studied vegeta-
tion and ecosystems all  over  British  Columbia  stressing  the
close  tie between plants, soils and climate. The biogeoclimatic
classification forms a framework for any regional  natural  his-
tory  study,  and  most  importantly,  a framework for improving
forestry practises in British Columbia and putting forestry on a
sound ecological base.

In the second theme, nature conservation, Krajina  combined  his
scientific background with political skills. Based on principles
drawn  by  the  International Biological Program, Krajina called
for the practical application  of  conservation  ideas  and  his
effort  resulted  in  the  Ecological Reserves Act passed by the
British Columbia Legislature in 1971. Using  this  act,  a  wide
range  of  natural  areas  can  be  set  aside  and protected as
ecological reserves. Krajina's goal was to protect at least  one
per  cent  of British Columbia's area in ecological reserves. At
this moment, 134 ecological  reserves  have  been  created  that
protect about 160,000 ha (one third of which are marine waters).
Yes,  we  still  have  a  long  way  to  go  in order to fulfill
Krajina's vision.

In 1972 Krajina won the George Lawson Medal  from  the  Canadian
Botanical  Association  and  in  1981  he  received the Order of
Canada. In 1990 Vladimir Krajina visited Czechoslovakia and  was
decorated with the "Order of the White Lion," the highest honour
reserved  for  a foreign [!] citizen by the Czech government. At
the same visit, Prof.  Krajina  was  granted  the  "Foreign  [!]
Honorary  Membership"  in the Czech Botanical Society. One issue
of the Czech Botanical Society journal Preslia was dedicated  to
Prof.  Vladimir  J. Krajina and both Krajina's biography and his
botanical bibliography were published in that issue by Jan Jenik
(Jenik, J. 1992. Professor Vladimir J. Krajina - Honorary Member
of the Czechoslovak Botanical Society.  Preslia,  Praha  64:291-

Vladimir  Krajina fought all his life to advance science and the
quality of life of his fellow men and women.
"We all thank him for inspiration and for setting  an  admirable
example  showing  that  a scientist's professional career can be
linked with citizen's honourable life in which  absolute  values
of  democratic  society  get  priority,  regardless  of personal
risks" (Jenik, 1992).

Adolf Ceska <aceska at>

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