Uttarakhand releases report on conservation of endemic, threatened floras

Uttarakhand became the 1st state in India to release a report highlighting its conservation efforts to save over 1,100 rare plants from extinction. The report is one among the most important repositories of conserved plants & is administered by the research wing of the state forest department. This project is aimed toward germplasm conservation in order that species remain conserved with the forest department albeit they disappear from their natural habitat within the wild.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) or state biodiversity board red list this project a complete of 1,145 plant species are conserved out of which 46 species are endemic to Uttarakhand and 68 species are rare, endangered or threatened.

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Important Highlights of the report:

  • The conservation programme covers all classes of plants: tree, shrub, herb, bamboo, wild climbers, fern, orchid, grass, cane, alpine flowers, palm, cycad, cactus, succulent, aquatic species, insectivorous plants and even lower plants like moss, lichen and algae, which are documented, classified and conserved for the primary time.
  • The report, running into 196 pages, prepared on these conserved species of floras contains detailed information of every plant on nine parameters: surname, scientific name, local name, endemism, conservation status, number and location at a research establishment, uses and thumbnail size photograph.
  • Around 386 species, conserved, have medicinal properties.
  • Most of the conservation efforts, public attention and funds are diverted into the conservation of megafauna species like tigers and elephants, in spite of plant conservation’s ecological role thanks to ‘Plant Blindness’.
  • At present extinction rate of plant species has reached up to 5-7 species per annum, as per various estimates, due to global climate change, heating, smuggling/illegal extractions and unplanned construction among others which can have very adverse consequences for future.

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Uttarakhand Forest department conserved few floras:

  • ‘Brahmkamal’, an endangered plant named after Hindu god Brahma, and mythological ‘Sanjeevani’ herb also are among the conserved floras under this programme.
  • Brahmkamal is found at over 12,000 feet altitude in the Himalayan region bordering China & is the state flower of Uttarakhand and considered a very sacred flower. It also has many medicinal properties, is used as antiseptic and for treatment of other ailments.
  • Thuner (Taxusbaccata), a tree found at very high altitude in Himalayan region and at the verge of extinction because of extraction of taxol’. It is used in treating breast cancer.
  • Bhojpatra (Betulautilis) is a holy tree on the bark of which ancient scriptures were written & is the last species in the tree line. It is found in the Himalayan region at around 10,000 ft altitude, before the start of glaciers.
  • Herbs like Ashwagandha’, Giloy’, Kalmegh’ and Chitrak’, are part of the research to find a possible cure to coronavirus and are included in this conservation programme executed by forest service officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi.

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