Around 23 rare medicinal plants in various forests of Karnataka are on the verge of extinction and listed as 'endangered' on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list.
The Karnataka Biodiversity Board and National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) conducted study has revealed that medicinal plants like sandalwood, wild clove, red sanders, wild Jamun, wild cinnamon and other species endemic to the Western Ghats have turned endangered on the IUCN list, reported Deccan Herald.
The study spanning for 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 medicinally 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. The board with the help of the state forest department is chalking out plans to safeguard the endangered species based on the findings of the report.
Ananth Hegde Ashisara, Chairperson, Biodiversity Board, said 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 that the 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 large scale," he added.
Canara (Uttara Kannada) and Mangaluru have the highest density of medicinally important plants out of 13 forest circles in the state, including several endangered plant species. Similarly, Kalaburgi and Mysuru circles, with dry deciduous forest cover, have revealed some presence of medicinal 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.