Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is one of the centres of All India
Coordinated Project on the Taxonomy (AICOPTAX) of Orchids funded by
the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt. of India. Under this
project WII has been conducting systematic surveys and taxonomic studies
on orchids covering two states of India viz., Uttaranchal and Jharkhand.
The Herbarium section of WII is regularly updates records of Angiosperms
from various protected areas and maintains an exhaustive database on
medicinal plants. One of the new initiatives under taxonomy and biodiversity
studies at WII is a detailed floristic survey of alpine regions of Western
Himalaya by Dr. G.S. Rawat who is currently involved in enumerating
and updating the alpine flora of the region and analysing the patterns
of plant species diversity, rarity and endemism across the Greater and
Trans-Himalaya. He has just completed a project in the alpine region
of Uttaranchal in collaboration with the Uttaranchal Forest Department
and Herbal Research & Development Institute (HRDI) Uttaranchal.
The study concluded that the alpine region of Uttaranchal has about
1350-1400 species of vascular plants which forms nearly 80 % of all
the alpine flora reported from the alpine region of Western Himalaya
and 32 % of total vascular flora known from Uttaranchal. Several new
records have been reported for the region. Fourteen sites of botanical
interest have been identified within the alpine region of Uttaranchal
which are recommended for declaration of alpine meadow preservation
plots which would serve as reference points for future monitoring in
relation to changes in habitat conditions due to anthropogenic and climatic
factors. The report also deals with status of alpine meadows and medicinal
plants giving suggestions for conservation and bio-prospecting.
G.S. Rawat, Ph. D.
Wildlife Institute of India
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