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Soon, action plan to conserve threatened plant species in Gujarat (Nov)

The Times of India, Ahmedabad, 1st November, 2013
Correspondent : Himanshu Kaushik
AHMEDABAD: The state is starting to prepare its own list of threatened and near extinction plant species. The state forest department and the Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (Geer) Foundation have begun putting together a list of the 40 most threatened species.
Gujarat has around 2,400 plant species. The state's threatened plant species have already been listed by the Botanical Survey of India and even the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
"The department has decided to have its own list for wild angiosperm plants of the state. Once our own list is ready, we will prepare conservation assessment and management plan for the plant species which are on the verge of extinction or are threatened," says principal chief conservator of forest C N Pandey.
The department will gauge the value and usefulness of the plant and draw up an action plan. If the usefulness of the plant for the people is more it would be preferred during the various tree plantation drives. The others would be grown in the botanical gardens to be set up in the state.
As concern for environmental degradation increases, the need for conservation action has become imperative, an official says. What species to conserve and how and where to conserve, are some of the issues that need to be addressed urgently.
Earlier similar attempts at conservation were based on research conducted by individual scientists or botanists and confined to a few species. The process of red-listing is long and time consuming and involves in-depth and intensive field studies of each species.
Geer Foundation director Bharat Pathak says, "We have identified 272 species which are threatened. Now with the help of experts, we are going to shorten the list and then prepare a complete report on each of the plant species, its importance and other aspects included in the count. Once this is completed, the department will prepare a final list of 40 species."
According to international guidelines, regional assessment of threat status of species has to be carried out, thus prompting conservation action in every geographical region. For the 40 species that are put on the list, information on range distribution, extent of occurrence, trade, habitat specification, forest cover and its loss will be collected and compiled from different sources.