Developmental pressure on forests and their unscrupulous exploitation have caused “severe depletion” of Himalayan medicinal wealth, a government report said and warned that the situation would go worse if corrective steps are not taken.

A report submitted to the Environment Ministry also said encouraging commercial cultivation is vital for the success of medicinal plants sector to meet the ever growing demand for “temperate medicinal plants”.

This medicinal wealth, which occupies an important place in Vedic treatise, has been depleting continuously for the last two decades in their natural habitat, said the report by the Himalayan Forest Research Institute (HFRI), adding that the depletion of medicinal plants resource base is affecting the health and livelihood options of the people.

North-western Himalayan region with its wide range of altitudes, topography and climatic conditions, is a rich repository of medicinal wealth.

According to the report, “more than 800 valuable medicinal species found in this part of India is extensively used by the locals since time immemorial for curing various diseases of humankind.”

“It is now a well known fact that medicinal plants sector possesses great potential to uplift the economy of this part of India,” it said.

“However, various developmental and anthropogenic pressures on the forests, unscrupulous exploitation of medicinal plants in the wake of their increasing national and global trade, inadequacy of management inputs and lack of enabling legislation have caused severe depletion of the medicinal plants resource base,” it said.