23 medicinal plants of Karnataka on endangered list

23 medicinal plants of Karnataka on endangered list

Withering species

The red-listed medicinal plants include sandalwood, wild clove, wild jamun, wild cinnamon and other species endemic to the Western Ghats. Representative image. Credit: Getty.

At a time when climate change and infrastructural projects are wreaking havoc on forests, an exhaustive study commissioned by the Karnataka Biodiversity Board and National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) has revealed that 23 rare medicinal plants in various forests of the state are on the verge of extinction and listed as 'endangered' on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list.

The red-listed rare medicinal plants include sandalwood, wild clove, red sanders, wild jamun, wild cinnamon and other species endemic to the Western Ghats. The study spanning five years by forest officials, botanists and field experts helped document more than 4,800 flowering plant species in various circles of the forests. Out of these, 60 rare species are medically prominent, including the 23 endangered species.

Highlighting the importance of these species, a detailed report was released by the State Biodiversity Board in Bengaluru on Saturday. Based on the findings, the board, in association with the forest department, is chalking out plans to safeguard the species.

Giving details of the study, Ananth Hegde Ashisara, Chairperson, Biodiversity Board, told DH that the species are facing various levels of threats. "Destruction of forests for projects, damage caused while extracting forest produce, increasing demand for herbal products, smuggling of these plants and wildfire in the summer season have put these species in peril,” he said.

He said the study included all varieties of species and that experts have covered a distance of 12,820 km, documenting the species. "We need to chalk out plans under the Forest Protection Act and Biodiversity Act to prevent exploitation of these species and take up conservation on a large scale," he added.

Of the 13 forest circles, Canara (Uttara Kannada) and Mangaluru have the highest density of medicinally important plants. They also have several endangered plant species. Similarly, Kalaburagi and Mysuru circles, with dry deciduous forest cover, have revealed a considerable presence of medicinally important plants.

The board has proposed stringent measures in the Forest Working Plan to protect these species by adopting sustainable harvesting methods to extract forest produce and large-scale propagation of the species in association with villagers, nurseries and village forest committees.