Conservation of wild plant species that are of high socio-economic and ecological value has significant place in the Biodiversity programme of MSSRF. The most recent Red list published by IUCN reports 39% of the wild’s species as threatened with early fate of extinction of many species. India being a tropical country has rich floristic diversity as well as endemism, and houses 8% of the global biodiversity. The threats the floristic wealth of the country faces are unprecedented and due to multiple factors, which are largely of socio-economic and political in nature. Out of the listed 620 threatened species in the Red Data Book of Indian plants, about 550 species are endemics and many fear that, a majority of the narrow endemics of India would soon become extinct.
Floristic Study to Unravel the Angiosperm Diversity of Wayanad
Kerala harbors a total of 4050 flowering plant species, of which 1637 are endemics and 483 are listed as threatened. A total of 1016 tree species are reported to exist in Kerala, of which 327 are Western Ghat endemics and 171 listed as threatened. Conservation and detailed study of such RET plant species received greater attention from the CABC biodiversity team right from the launch of the programme.
The Centre started the biodiversity programme by undertaking a floristic study to unravel the angiosperm diversity of Wayanad district, which brought out the base line information on the flora of the district.
Key achievements of the floristic study:
- A total of 2100 flowering plants were documented, with 52 Red Data Species and nearly 900 Indian sub-continent endemics
- The study also resulted in description of several new species to science, and proved that endemic species are most threatened and becoming rare in a faster pace
- Two-phased project on Fellowships in conservation of RET plants with support of Sir Dorabji Tata Trust for about 6 years which contributed signifi cantly to the knowledge about the RET plants of the region
- Establishment of Western Ghats Endemic Plants Information Centre (WEPIC), and a Botanic Garden with RET Plants Conservatory and Arboretum.