Medicinal plants face extinction in Northeast

PTI Guwahati | Updated on November 18, 2011 Published on November 18, 2011

Medicinal plants on display at an expo organised in connection with the Indian Biodiversity Congress in Thiruvananthapuram. (file photo)   -  The Hindu

The country’s north eastern region is rich in medicinal plants, but indiscriminate and unscientific collection is forcing many of the species into the verge of extinction, according to experts.

This matter was raised in a recent seminar organised by the apex funding institution of the region, the North Eastern Development Financial Corporation (NEDFI).

Many of the pharmaceutical companies collect their requirement from wild sources through casual and unskilled collectors and due to indiscriminate collection, many of the species disappear from their original habitats, the experts, who participated in the programme, said.

Many important species are either on the verge of extinction from the region or being threatened because of unawareness of the local people and lack of sustainable utilisation strategies.

The Northeast is rich in plant resources, ethnobiocultures and ranks sixth among the 25 mega diversity hot spot regions of the world.

More than 70 per cent of the area is predominantly hilly and having climatic heterogeneity with diverse agro climatic zones.

The region is full of plant genetic resources with a total of about 8,000 species of flowering plants from the Himalayas of which about 5,000 species are reported from the N-E region.

Till date, more than 1,400 medicinal plants have been reported by different workers and many of them belong to rare, endangered and threatened category and some are even endemic.

Many medicinal plants are unscientifically collected and among them are the “Durik Ada” variety the root of which is used as spice and condiments.

Another is the Zingiberaceae species, which is explored heavily from the forest and these are being collected from wild sources without any programme of regeneration.

Experts said that if this continues unabated, in the near future the region is bound to loose many of them for ever.

The region is considered as one of the richest in biological diversity and medicinal plants constitute a major component.

It is a significant zone and represents the transition zone between India, Indo-Malayam and Indo-Chinese biogeographic region as well as meeting place of the Himalayan mountains with that of Peninsular India and acts as biogeographic gateway of plant migration.

Published on November 18, 2011
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