For flower lovers, ecologists, and concerned citizens everywhere, important news in today’s Hindu:
As a global biodiversity hotspot and a world heritage site, the Western Ghats is a magnet for conservationists, nature lovers, scientists and researchers hoping to delve into the secrets of its abundant flora and fauna. But despite decades of study by individuals and groups, an essential reference work cataloguing the rich biodiversity of the region has remained a dream.
In a bid to address this need, scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) at Palode near here have come out with a comprehensive work on the flowering plants of the Western Ghats.
Published in two volumes, the 1,700-page book reveals the occurrence of a total of 7,402 species of flowering plants in the region, out of which 5,588 species are native or indigenous. Of the rest, 376 are exotics naturalised and 1,438 species are cultivated or planted as ornamentals.
The study carried out by the authors shows that 2,253 out of the indigenous species are endemic to India, with 1,273 species exclusively confined to the Western Ghats. The study also provides details about 593 subspecies and varieties.
Authored by T.S. Nayar, A. Rasiya Beegam and M. Sibi, the book provides the correct scientific name, associated synonyms, nature of each species (tree, shrub, herb etc.), its distribution in the Western Ghats and the world, flowering and fruiting time, threat category status, and all kinds of uses and local names in Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Kannada, Malayalam, and Tamil.
“The book is relevant in the backdrop of the gross depletion of genetic resources in the Western Ghats,” says Dr. Nayar.
“As much as 40 per cent of the original vegetation here has already been converted for cultivation, plantation and hydro-electric projects. Other human activities like hunting, mining, construction of roads and wind farms also pose serious threats to the biodiversity,” he says.
In his foreword, eminent agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan describes the book as an invaluable guide to all interested in the flora of the unique ecosystem of the Western Ghats.