Sharath S. Srivatsa
Horticulture Department looking at roping in the next generation for conservation
1,000 saplings of 70 species to be given to schools free
It will help create awareness among students
BANGALORE: Catching them young seems to be an option adopted by the Horticulture Department to prevent endangered medicinal and aromatic plants facing extinction. Even as these rare and endangered plants endemic to Western Ghats are facing the threat of extinction in the wild because of unscientific harvesting, schools are seen as “protectors” of the plant species.
To protect, promote and develop these endangered species, the department, through the National Horticulture Mission, is encouraging schools in 17 districts to set up “school gardens” that would help in educating students besides protecting the endangered plants.
Increasingly, as medicinal and aromatic herbs are finding uses in industry, unscientific harvesting has rendered many endemic species of the Western Ghats endangered, according to sources.
Under the programme, interested schools get 1,000 saplings of around 70 endemic species free of cost. “The department will send experts to create awareness among teachers and students about the plants during which scientific name, common name, common uses and cultivation procedures are explained,” R. Vishwanath, Deputy Director, Biotechnology Centre, told The Hindu.
The department is implementing the prestigious project in 17 horticulture districts of the State that includes Belgaum, Bagalkot, Bijapur, Bangalore Rural, Mysore, Kolar, Tumkur, Shimoga, Chikmagalur, Kodagu, Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Gulbarga.
Launched in 2006, the project has seen a number of schools in Uttara Kannada and Dakshina Kannada coming forward to set up school gardens with a profusion of tulasi, sarpagandha, ashwagandha, amruthaballi, pacholi, hippali, agnimantha, rose apple and so on.
However, the schools in other parts have not evinced much interest, as not many school gardens have come up.
Help from officials
Mr. Vishwanth said: “We have communicated to all the schools through the office of Commissioner of Public Instruction and our officials will help setting up gardens in any school that comes forward.”
Schools interested to establish gardens may contact the nearest taluk horticulture officer or H.R. Gurudutt, Horticulture Officer, Department of Horticulture, Biotechnology Centre, Hulimavu (ph: 26584904).