IISc develops portal on plant species

Has collected data of over 5,000 varieties found in the State

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has collected data of over 5,000 different kinds of plant species found in the State, which will be available for the public in the form of an online portal, shortly.

The study, which was carried out by the Centre of Ecological Science at IISc, is an attempt to document and catalogue the rich flora and fauna spread over 32,000 sq km in the State. “The database will be helpful not only for education and research purposes, but also for commerce, and to help the government form a proper policy on ecology and biodiversity,” said K Sankara Rao, former professor at IISc, who led the study.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a function to inaugurate the online plant portal here on Thursday.

The database contains profiles of as many as 2,449 herb species, 933 species of trees, 759 species of shrubs, 85 under-shrub species, 156 species of climbing shrubs, 264 types of climbers, 135 species of palms, 139 species of Lianas, 62 types of parasite plants and 18 species of canes.

List of endangered plants

The database also has a list of a number of endangered species of plants. As many as 20 critically endangered, 72 endangered, 24 near-threatened, 63 vulnerable and 4,129 not-evaluated species are available.

There are descriptions of each species, complete with photographs, along with information on its phenology, distribution, threat status, habitats and comments on its special features.

Information on plant species has been alphabetically arranged with scientific and vernacular names for the user’s convenience.

It will also have an advanced search option that will help the user further explore the entire database according to their own specifications.

Will be open to public

At the moment, the portal will be open only to the IISc faculty. Within a matter of a few weeks it is expected to be open to the public.

Elaborating on the usefulness of the online database for the government, Rao talked about a number of ecologically sensitive areas that could be located with the help of the database, before the government decides to embark on various hydro-electric or mining projects.

“Before any such projects, it is necessary to compile an ecological status report. The database will help in this task. Moreover, it will also increase awareness and the sensitivity of people to the issue of biodiversity,” said Rao.

Referring to the database as a “gold mine,” N Sivasailam, principal secretary, Forest, Environment and Ecology Department, highlighted how the database was able to trace 16 endangered plant species in Chikmagalur and how it would help the department in conservation efforts.

“My officers and I should make sure that the 16 species in Chikmagalur are now off the endangered list. The database is surely helpful for the policy makers,” he said. He also spoke about the lack of staff at the Karnataka Biodiversity Board. “The board, in fact, has a secretary and a chairman, along with non-official members,” Sivasailam added.

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