Ayurveda experts are calling for new strategies for preserving medicinal plants

The earth is losing a potential drug every two years due to the threat to the survival of medicinal plants and the rate of their extinction is a hundred times faster than the natural process, according to experts who attended the World Ayurveda Congress (WAC) in Goa.

They also stressed the need for the conservation of medicinal plants beyond awareness campaigns.

Ten percent of the 900 major medicinal plants in India fall under the ‘threatened’ category, noted speakers in a session on ‘medicinal plant conservation needs’ at the 9th WAC and Arogya Expo 2022.

The four-day WAC concluded on Sunday.

“The earth is losing a potential drug every two years at a rate of extinction that is a hundred times faster than the natural process,” said a statement citing various experts who spoke at the session.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his valedictory speech to WAC on Sunday that the world has tried various styles of treatment and is returning to the ancient treatment methods of Ayurveda.

JACS Rao, CEO of State Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Board, Chhattisgarh, said the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimated that about 10% of the world’s vascular plant species of around 20,000-25,000 are under varying degrees of threat.

About 5,000 species are endemic to India, while about 1,500 species (about 10% of flowering plants) are under varying degrees of threat.

Rao said the number of “red-listed” plants in India is 387, while there are 77 critically endangered species and six species in the “extinct” category. Two species in nature have disappeared completely.

He cited overexploitation, the industry’s high dependence on the wildlife population, habitat destruction and urbanization as some of the reasons.

“We need to adopt conservation strategies such as field studies, proper documentation, mitigation measures, special legislation such as the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and recovery programmes,” he added.

Dr. Pradip Vithal Sarmokadam, Member Secretary, State Biodiversity Council (SBB), Goa, highlighted the need of biodiversity conservation through livelihoods and understanding medicinal plant populations to preserve the ecosystem.

“India has about 45,000 plant species and of these, 7,333 are medicinal aromatic plants. But only 15% of medicinal plants are cultivated, while the remaining 85% are harvested by industry from forest ecosystems and other natural habitats” , he added. .

Jitendra Sharma, former joint secretary of the AYUSH union ministry and former chief executive officer of the National Medicinal Plant Council, said formally linking supply chains from augmented natural resources was a major challenge.

He said that an amendment to the Indian Forest Act 1927 is needed as there is no National Transit Permit that allows transit of forest products from one part of the country to another.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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