Conserve medicinal plants to mitigate climate change, says India at COP22

Marrakech, Nov 9 (IANS) India on Wednesday pitched for the conservation and cultivation of the medicinal plants for climate change mitigation of the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22).

At the Indian pavillion, the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE)underlined the importance of medicinal plants in India, that has over 6,000 plants species codified under the natural and herbal medical system, but some are coming under threat.

“A research conducted in 18 Indian states, including in the northeast showed that existence of about 350 medicinal plants is threatened and listed red,” said GS Goraya, senior scientist from ICFRE. Officials said that those plants are listed under code red of IUCN.

Of those threatened medicinal plants, 100 face an active threat and the wild population has reached a level of “no return”, that means they are on the verge of extinction. The situation has forced industry to use “substitutes” of such plants, with relative low effects, he said.

“The herbal plants are needed in high quantities but they are not available in the wild. It is mainly due to excessive and destructive harvesting and increasing biotic pressure in the harvested area”, Goraya said, adding that it is a matter of concern in India.

The rampant climate degradation is considered a reason behind weakening resilience of the rootstocks.

Raising concerns over climate change and its impact on the flora, experts said that many plants have started flowering early.

“The situation is aggravated by unprecedented spread of invasive alien species, vanishing water springs and drying of alpine lakes, receding glaciers and effect on glacier melt,” Goraya said.

The survival of the local health traditions is part of India’s agenda at COP22 as well as part of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) – a plan or layout to mitigate the climate change that every party to COP21 has to submit to UNFCCC.

Preservation of flora, especially the medicinal plants is also on United Nation’s agenda under REDF+ or “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation”.

The Indian government is identifying areas across country and marking them as “medicinal plant conservation area” to conserve some plant species. However such areas are very low and government needs to work more, officials suggested at COP22.

Dr Sashi Kumar, Director Genreal ICFRE said that India had to be more sensitive towards promotion of RED+.

Meanwhile, pitching for a trans-boundary partnership to conserve such plants, especially in Himalayas, Kai Windhorst from International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) advocated the Himalayan regions have to work together and submit joint statements to UNFCCC.

“ICIMOD is working in the Hindu Kush and the Himalayan region of India, Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar to reduce deforestation and provide a platform for south-south learning across cross border,” he said.

(Kushagra Dixit is at COP22, Marrakech. He can be reached at kushagra.d@ians.in)

–IANS

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