Uttarakhand forest department in its unparalleled 196 page report has studied 1,145 plants, on the basis of 9 parameters- family name, scientific name, local name, conservation status, number and location at the research establishment, endemism, usage and photograph. Out of which 8 are critically endangered, 23 endangered, 14 vulnerable, 12 nearly threatened, 46 endemic and 386 medicinal plants. It has created a repository with over three year-long fieldwork across eight forest ranges in both Garhwal and Kumaon regions.

This initiative was taken in order to promote conservation of plant species among the general public in case they disappear from wild due to any reason and to end ‘plant blindness’, a term coined by US botanist Elisabeth Schussler and James Wandersee in 1988 which means ‘the inability to see or notice the plants in one’s own environment’.

Sanjiv Chaturvedi, Conservator of Forest (research wing) Uttarkhand, said that the forest department has collected this from 20 diverse plant groups ranging from trees, herbs, shrubs bamboos, orchids, grasses, ferns, climber species, palms, cactuses, succulents, aquatic plants, insectivore plants, mosses, lichens, algae and liverworts. Over 90% of this conservation is ex-situ (conservation of species outside their natural habitat) and 10% in-situ (conservation of species in the same habitat where they are found).

The department said that the data bank will be updated annually in the month of April. It has been a long pending item for the department which finally got implemented. The Himalayan ecosystem is already facing several threats due to climate change, global warming, smuggling, illegal extractions and other reasons.

By: Krishna Singh

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