Use of critically endangered medicinal plants to be phased out

Ashoka tree   | Photo Credit: mail

In a few months, numerous “sought-after” ayurvedic medicines will be taken off the shelves as Karnataka Biodiversity Board (KBB) is phasing out the use of critically endangered medicinal plant species.

Of the 425 plant species obtained from pharmaceutical companies, the board has reviewed 40 species that were put on the red list — that is, endangered or vulnerable species — of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

And of the 40 species, 20 have been declared as being “unsustainably exploited”. The board has suggested phasing them out in a timeframe ranging from six months to two years. This is part of implementing the National Biodiversity Board guidelines issued on November 21 last year on access-benefit sharing between local bodies and pharmaceutical companies.

For instance, the use of the popular Ashoka tree, which is classified by the IUCN as “vulnerable”, has been recommended for being phased out within six months. Nearly 15,337 tonnes of its bark, taken primarily from the Western Ghats, is used annually by pharma companies in the State.

“We have estimated that the demand is around 10,500 tonnes. At this level of demand, the entire supply may be wiped out. Even now, companies are struggling to meet the demand by adulterating Ashoka barks with the barks of seven other trees,” said M. Sanjappa, former Director of Botanical Survey of India and a KBB member.

Similarly, the use of Salacia genus of plants, including Salacia oblonga, Salacia chinensis (Saptrangi), and others used for treatment of diabetes, has to be phased out within six months.

“We will also recommend that companies be encouraged to take up cultivation of these species, instead of using them from the wild,” said Mr. Sanjappa.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 2:42:10 PM |

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