After 12 years of its creation, the Ethnobotanical Garden at Centro Cultural Santo Domingo has become a referent of the Oaxaca capital city’s public space. This initiative was presented by Patronato Pro Defensa y Conservacion del Patrimonio Natural y Cultural de Oaxaca, Pro-Oax (Oaxaca Natural and Cultural Heritage Conservation and Protection Board), which now pretends to transform Guiengola Archaeological Site in an ecological reserve.

This was announced by Luis Zarate, member of Pro-Oax and designer of the Ethnobotanical Garden, at the second day of the 8th International Encounter on Historic Centers Revitalization, organized by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and Centro Cultural España (Spain Cultural Center).

At the forum taking place at Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, in Mexico City, Zarate made a balance of the landscape architecture project next to Ex Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzman, seat of the Cultural Center of the same name, in custody of INAH.  

In the last decade of the 20th century, supported by architect Saul Alcantara, INAH specialist, the 2.5 hectares plot was projected to be “a garden, a living collection, and an educational and scientific institution, not a park”.

After 10 years, Oaxaca people have made this space their own because it represents a micro cosmos of the state, one of the most diverse due to its ecosystems and ethnolinguistic variety (16 indigenous groups with 154 living tongues), referred Zarate.

“Simple rules” were proposed for the creation of Santo Domingo Ethnobotanical Garden, for instance, “that no construction stuck out of the ground; harmonizing garden with the Dominic building, recovering historic visuals and levels, and that vegetal associations were supported by ecological criteria, which increase the survival possibilities of transplanted species”.

As a product of collective work, the Ethnobotanical Garden “has established a dialogue with the 16th-17th centuries building, its hollows, patios, balconies and windows. One and the other, through its continuity, its diversity, its juxtaposition of concepts, transit from geometric vegetal zoning to visual labyrinths”.

Guiengola as an Ecological Reserve

Guiengola, seat of the last Zapoteca ruler, Cocijoeza, is a Prehispanic site located 15 kilometers to the west of Santo Domingo de Tehuantepec. Pro-Oax heads efforts to convert it into an ecological reserve.

Zarate, member of the board founded by Oaxaca artist Francisco Toledo, mentioned Guiengola has awaken his enthusiasm due to its botanical relevance and the archaeological site.

“A minimum and careful intervention is required to give the zone services, a shelter and an access. The sole idea of creating a great protected zone is stimulating, although it will require convoking a force, an organized energy”.