Kerala to have a Red Data Book on plants soon

Cynometra beddomei (Critically Endangered)

Cynometra beddomei (Critically Endangered) | Photo Credit: JNTBGRI

A research team at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) at Palode here is giving the final touches to the first-of-its-kind Red Data Book on plants of Kerala.

Prepared using the criteria of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the JNTBGRI work notes that 264 species of flowering plants (angiosperms) in the State are facing threat of extinction in varying degrees. They have been categorised into 44 Critically Endangered (CR) species, 113 Endangered (EN) species and 107 Vulnerable (VU) species. Besides these, four gymnosperms, three pteridophytes and one bryophyte also have been listed as ‘threatened’ in the State.

A project funded by the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB), the book's publication, JNTBGRI officials said, would make Kerala the first State to have such a comprehensive inventory on threatened flora.

Dysoxylum malabaricum (Endangered)

Dysoxylum malabaricum (Endangered) | Photo Credit: JNTBGRI

''Most of the threatened species are exclusive endemics whose distribution is restricted to the Western Ghats region as well as to the State of Kerala,'' JNTBGRI director R. Prakashkumar said.

Years of research

The research team behind the work consisted of Senior Scientist and Principal Investigator Nazarudeen Ahammed, G. Rajkumar, R. Raj Vikraman and M. Raveendran. The work is the result of sustained research spanning several years. The team made use of available literature, supplementing it with extensive field surveys, consultations with taxonomy experts and collection of data from major herbaria in south India.

''This compendium will be of great use to people engaged in research on threatened plants and conservation. It took us a little over two years to complete the Final Technical Report (FTR) which will soon be handed over to the KSBB. The contents, of course, will undergo periodical revision for updating the changes in status of species,'' Dr. Nazarudeen Ahammed said.

Aporosa cardiosperma (Vulnerable)

Aporosa cardiosperma (Vulnerable) | Photo Credit: JNTBGRI

Rich array

Given the diversity in topography, altitude and climate, Kerala supports a strong floristic resource base with a rich array of both flora and fauna. Nonetheless, many valuable species are facing threat due to anthropogenic causes; deforestation and urbanisation, over-exploitation of economically important plants, invasion of alien species, uncontrolled grazing, unplanned development and pilgrim/tourist influx, the JNTBGRI noted. During the course of the project, the team found that some of the species reported as common are indeed very rare while some others were observed to be in rapid decline in recent years.

Dr. Prakashkumar expressed the hope that the information contained in the work would raise awareness among the public and prompt policy makers to give priority to safeguarding threatened species.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2022 7:21:38 pm |