The country loses one potential medicine every two years due to threats to the survival of medicinal plants, and the speed of their extinction is a hundred times faster than the natural process, according to experts who participated in the World Ayurvedic Congress (WAC) in Goa.
They also emphasized the need to conserve medicinal plants beyond awareness campaigns.
Ten percent of India’s 900 major medicinal plants fall under the “threatened” category, noted speakers at the session on “Conservation Needs of Medicinal Plants” at the 9th edition of WAC and Arogya Expo 2022.
The four-day WAC ended on Sunday.
“The earth is losing one potential drug every two years at an extinction rate that is a hundred times faster than the natural process,” the statement said, citing various experts who spoke at the session.
In his welcome address at the WAC, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the world has tried different styles of treatment and is returning to the ancient methods of Ayurvedic treatment.
JACS Rao, executive director of the State Board of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Chhattisgarh, said that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has estimated that about 10 percent of the world’s vascular plant species of about 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 percent 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 have completely disappeared in the wild.
He cited over-exploitation, industry’s high dependence on wild animal populations, habitat destruction and urbanization as some of the reasons.
“We need to adopt conservation strategies like field studies, proper documentation, mitigation measures, special laws like the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and recovery programs,” he added.
dr. Pradip Vithal Sarmokadam, member secretary, State Biodiversity Board (SBB), Goa, highlighted the need to conserve biodiversity through earning and understanding medicinal plant populations for ecosystem conservation.
“India has about 45,000 plant species, of which 7,333 are medicinal aromatic plants. But only 15 percent of medicinal plants are cultivated, while the remaining 85 percent are collected by industry from forest ecosystems and other natural habitats,” he added. .
Former joint secretary of the Union ministry of AYUSH and former chief executive officer of the National Board of Medicinal Plants, Jitendra Sharma said that formally linking supply chains from expanded wild sources is a major challenge.
He said an amendment to the Indian Forest Act, 1927 was needed as there was no provision for a national transit permit to allow transit of forest produce from one part of the country to another.
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