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Uttarakhand becomes the 1st state to release report on conservation of endemic, threatened floras

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In a first, Uttarakhand releases reportOn May 24, 2020 Uttarakhand became the 1st state to release a report highlighting its conservation efforts to save over 1,100 rare plants from extinction. The project aims at Germplasm conservation so that species remain conserved with the forest department & also to promote conservation of plant species among the general public so as to end plant blindness. The report is one of the largest repositories of conserved plants & is carried out by the research wing of the state forest department.

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

Major Highlights of the report

i.There are around 386 species, conserved, that have medicinal properties. Currently, the extinction rate of plant species has reached up to 5-7 species per year, as per various estimates, owing to climate change, global warming, smuggling/illegal extractions and unplanned construction among others which will have very adverse consequences for future.

ii.An updated version of this report will be brought out annually in the month of April.

Key Points

i.The conservation programme covers all classes of plants like trees, shrubs & herb among others and lower plants like moss, lichen and algae, which have been documented, classified and conserved.

ii.The 196 pages report is  prepared with information containing detailed information of each plant on nine parameters like family name, scientific name, etc., The report was completed in a year.

iii.Most of the conservation efforts, public attention and funds are diverted into conservation of megafauna species like tigers and elephants, in spite of plant conservation’s ecological role due to ‘Plant Blindness’.

Few floras conserved by Uttarakhand Forest department

i.Among the conserved floras under this programme, Brahmkamal(scientific name- Saussurea obvallata), an endangered plant named after Hindu god Brahma, and mythological Sanjeevani’ herb are included.

  • Brahmkamal- It 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.

ii.Sanjeevani (Selaginella bryopteris) is another rare herb which has found a mention in Ramayan.

iii.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.

iv.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.

v.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.

vi.Some of the famous and endangered plant species conserved are- Chandan, Raktchandan, Ritha, Vajradanti, Jatamasi, Dhoop, Badritulsi, Sita Ashok, Mithavish, Sarpgandha, Brahmi, Salampanja (orchid), Kalmegha, and Buransh among others.

Germplasm conservation– It is a method to conserve the genetic traits of endangered and commercially valuable species.

Plant blindness–  A term coined by US botanist Elisabeth Schussler and James Wandersee in 1998 meaning inability to see or notice plants in one’s own environment.

About Uttarakhand
Capital– Dehradun(winter capital), Gairsain(summer capital)
Chief Minister– Trivendra Singh Rawat
Governor– Baby Rani Maurya
National Park(NP)- Jim Corbett NP, Nanda Devi NP, Valley of Flowers NP, Rajaji NP, Gangotri NP, Govind NP.
Wildlife Sanctuary(WLS)– Govind WLS, Kedarnath WLS, Askot WLS, Sonanadi WLS, Binsar WLS, Mussoorie WLS, Nandhaur WLS.