Prioritization of Wild Medicinal Plant species for different states for guiding Conservation Action at the state level
Report Edited by: Ved (Late), D.K. and G.S. Goraya
The expanding domestic and global demand of herbal products has put the native medicinal plant resources under significant stress. Wild populations of many medicinal plant species, those growing inside the forests as well as outside forests, have depleted to such an extent that their very survival has become a cause of concern. Whereas several of these species are facing threat of extinction on account of their narrow distribution or endemicity and degradation of their specific habitat, many of these have come to this pass on account of indiscriminate and un-sustainable harvesting. It is a pity that most of these species have never been the focus of any dedicated management intervention. Whereas no management protocols are in existence for the species found outside forests, management focus in respect of the forest species has been primarily on the timber species of high commercial value with little priority accorded to the management of medicinal plants. This lack of management focus has been a cause, as well as a consequence, of inadequacy of data related to the diversity of medicinal plant species being harvested and the quantum of such harvests.
The Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT), Bangalore, a Centre of Excellence of Medicinal Plants and Traditional Knowledge of Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) of GOI, has undertaken two kinds efforts to identify and prioritize wild medicinal plant species needing urgent management attention.
The first of these efforts relates to co-ordinating rapid threat assesesment exercises for the wild medicinal plant species occurring in different states. These rapid threat assessments have involved conducting Conservation Assessment and Management Prioritisation (CAMP) workshops using IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. This CAMP process has been utilized by FRLHT, over the past 13 years, to undertake rapid assessment of threat status of wild medicinal plant species of conservation concern in different states of India. During this period FRLHT has facilitated 14 such CAMP workshops covering 17 states of India. These exercises have involved undertaking assessments for a total of 359 prioritized wild Medicinal plant taxa. Of the 359 taxa taken up for assessment, 335 have been assigned Red List status ranging from Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), Vulnerable (VU) to Near Threatened (NT).
The second effort relates to the NMPB sponsored nation-wide study to assess the demand and supply of medicinal plants in the country undertaken by FRLHT during 2006-07. A total of 960 medicinal plant species, identified as sources of 1289 botanical raw drugs, have been recorded in trade in this study. Further scrutiny and analysis of this list has resulted in short-listing of 178 species in high trade i.e. in volumes exceeding 100 MT (dry w.t) per year.
Out of the list of 335 Red Listed medicinal plant species resulting from the CAMP process, 197 have been recorded in trade in this study. It includes 84 species recorded in high volume trade i.e. excedding 100 MT/year (dry wt). Informed and focused conservation action, along with appropriate resource augmentation, has to be developed for these species, in the appropriate regions of the concerned state.