♣ GOVT PLANS Rs.7-CR PROJECT TO SAVE BIODIVERSITY IN RAJASTHAN

Many herbs found in state are under threat of extinction.

The state government seems to be waking up to the cause of biodiversity in the state.
The forest department has launched a special project to save guggal (commiphora wightii) the most important but almost extinct medicinal plant mainly found in Aravali hills of southern Rajasthan.

The shrub produces gum resin which is used in ayurvedic medicines for the treatment of bone fractures, arthritis, inflammation, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and lipid disorders.

“About 95% medicines that we use daily for general treatments are made from medicinal plants and forest areas of the Udaipur division; Sitamata, Kumbhalgarh, Sundhamata and Banswara have plenty of them,” director of the Forest Training Institute PK Merkap said.

However, this usefulness has actually been threatening guggal and some other medicinal plants as demand for herbal medicines is constantly growing not just in the country but across the globe.

Recently the Union health ministry released a list of endangered 300 species of medicinal herbs and plants threatened by the over-exploitation that feeds the ayurveda industry in India and abroad. The list includes guggal, which has also been listed in data deficient category of International Union for Conservations Nature (IUCN) red data list.

Experts also blame pressures from urbanisation, mass tourism and intensive agriculture for the threatened extinction of the herb. According to them most of the rural communities adjacent to the Aravali hills are poverty-stricken.

Poor people, especially those living in areas with low agricultural productivity, rely heavily on wild flora and fauna to support their livelihoods.

Now, the state government has prepared Rs.7 crore project to save guggal from extinction under the eco-restoration model with the help of National Medicinal Plants Board, which has recently sanctioned conservation and plantation of guggal on over 4,000 hctares of forest land in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

“The medicinal plants are important part of our rich bio-diversity and the forest department has been working with local people for the conservation of these plants,” Merkap said.

Source: DNA digital edition, Jaipur, 28 June 2010

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