The Institució Catalana d’Història Natural -ICHN- (Catalan Institution of Natural History) was founded in 1899 in Barcelona, when Catalonian people were recovering they identity, by a group of youngsters students. In the beginning, the ICHN was located in the Centre Excursionista de Catalunya (Catalonian Mountain Association). The scientific outings, the lectures and the publication of the Butlletí (Bulletin) were the ICHN’s first activities that soon were joined by prominent naturalists. The ICHN’s land scope is that of the Catalan language.
In 1917, after two years of negotiation, the ICHN associated with the Institut d’Estudis Catalans (IEC) (Institute of Catalonian Studies).
Pius Font i Quer (Lleida 1888 – Barcelona 1964), who obtained his doctorate in pharmacy with the study of the flora and vegetation of the district of Bages (Ensayo fitotopográfico de Bages, 1914), first belonged to the the Council of the ICHN, before the period of general Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship. Later on, he was president between 1931 and 1934. The ICHN turned up young again under the presidency and leadership of Dr Font i Quer, a hard worker and acknowledged scientist. During the long political period of dictator Franco, Catalonian culture was prosecuted by the Spanish government and their associations were prohibited. Although the difficulties of those bad days, the ICHN survived. It was clandestinely maintained by its botanical section still managed by Dr Pius Font i Quer (from 1945 to his death in 1964).
In 1972, the ICHN restarted with the conservation of the natural heritage as an additional purpose to the knowledge and teaching of nature ones. This aim crystallized in 1976, in Sant Jordi ‘s books day (Saint Georges, April 23rd, is devoted to books in Catalonia) with the issue of the Llibre blanc de la gestió de la natura als Països Catalans (White book of the management of nature in the Catalonian countries). Dr Ramon Folch i Guillén (Barcelona 1946) directed the team of authors.
La Delegació del Bages (The ICHN’s delegation of Bages)
In 1975 May 30th, at the high school Lluís de Peguera , in the capital of Bages district Manresa, the Grup Autònom de Manresa de la Institució Catalana d’Història Natural (ICHN’s autonomous group of Manresa) was founded by a group of ICHN’s members leaded by the doctor in geology Valentí Masachs i Alavedra (Manresa 1915-1980). Soon, the recent group of naturalists moved to the Escola Politècnica Superior d’Enginyeria de Manresa – UPC (Politechnics University of Catalonia, School of Manresa). In contact with the main association, the Grup Autònom de Manresa publishes papers and promotes scientific and popular lectures concerning the nature of the district of Bages and the central area of Catalonia.
In 1992, the group deeply renewed with a new generation of biologists and geologists which increased the activities with excursions throughout Catalonia and with the study and protection of the natural heritage mainly in the district of Bages. Then, the group changed its former name to Delegació del Bages de la ICHN (ICHN’s Delegation of Bages). Noticeable contributions of the ICHN’s Delegation of Bages to its environmental protection during the last decade of the century has been the spreading of the natural values of the Pla de Bages (plain of Bages) in front of several impacts and changes of land use, the restoration of the Corbatera (Sallent) wetland and the correction of the Manresa-Súria railway step on the wetland of Les Torres (Sant Joan de Vilatorrada).
The ICHN is a multidiscipline association of naturalists where everyone learns from other members’s contributions. Aiming at knowing, spreading and protecting the natural values of the Catalonian countries, the ICHN organizes the following public activities:
- Scientific sessions about naturalistic topics.
- Seminars of environmental management that are applied to specific problems.
- Courses about specific skills and nature subjects.
- Consultancy for public institutions.
- Guided outings to natural areas.
Programs of outings:
- Program of guided outings to the green belt of Manresa, 2009-10
- Website of ICHN-Bages outings
- Poster of guided outing to natural areas, 2008-09
- Remembering Pius Font i Quer, program of activities about botany to remind the 50th anniversary of the death of the famous botanist and the 100th anniversary of its Ensayo Fitotopográfico de Bages publication, the Flora of the district of Bages.
The series Treballs de la ICHN (Works) is a collection of monographic books. They are often dedicated to a specific part of the territory and written by a team of authors. Among the published Works, three of them stand out: Els sistemes naturals del delta de l’Ebre (1977) (The natural systems of the river Ebre delta), Els sistemes naturals dels aiguamolls de l’Empordà (1994) (The natural systems of the wetlands of Emporda) and Els sistemes naturals de la vall d’Alinyà (2004) (The natural systems of the Alinyà valley).
In 1976, the ICHN published the book Natura, ús o abús? Llibre blanc de la gestió de la natura als Països Catalans (Nature, use or abuse? White book of the nature management in the Catalonian countries) which was updated and reedited in 1988. In this large, collective and accurated work, the scientific community agglutinated by the ICHN warned from the urgencies of an appropriate management to protect the Catalonian natural heritage and ending the mutual ignorance between scientists and managers.
The outstanding publication of the delegation of Bages is the book Guia d’Espais d’Interès Natural del Bages (Guide of natural interest areas of Bages). The guidebook describes 36 natural areas of the district. The guidebook was edited in 1997 together with the Centre d’Estudis del Bages (Center of Studies of Bages) and reprinted in January 1999.
In 1999, in the centennary, the ICHN arranged a commemorative exhibition and issued the book Cent anys de passió per la natura (A hundred years of passion for nature) from Josep M. Camarassa. This historical book reviews the 100 years of the ICHN life. Separately, the delegation of Bages began the present project El medi natural del Bages (The natural environment of Bages).
|INSTITUCIÓ CATALANA D’HISTÒRIA NATURAL|
Carrer del Carme, 47 – 08001 Barcelona
|ICHN – Delegació del Bages|
Escola Politècnica Superior d’Enginyeria de Manresa – UPC
Avda. Bases de Manresa, 61-73 – 08240 Manresa
[Jordi Badia with the contribution of Marc Vilarmau and Florenci Vallès]