An integrated, environmentally friendly approach to the conservation of medicinal plants and natural pollinators

Medicinal plants are a key natural resource for the traditional and modern medical system. A huge amount of medicinal plants are exported every year for the production of natural and synthetic medicines used in modern allopathic medicine; as well as alternative medical systems such as homeopathy, ayurveda, siddha and yunani.

By Saikat Kumar Basu

In addition to traditional and modern medicines produced from various species of medicinal plants; they are also used in the modern functional food and nutraceutical industries in addition to the pharmaceutical industry. Profit margins for drug producers have increased almost in geometric progression.

As a result, the demand for medicinal plants has rapidly increased in local, regional and international markets. Since the demand is much higher than the supply, there is certainly corruption as well as dangers of overexploitation of medicinal plants from their natural ecological habitats. Commercial agronomic production of several important medicinal plants is a distant dream and often has very little agronomic information available about them in primary, secondary and tertiary literary sources.

Ecological restoration could indeed serve as an important platform for the conservation of the two traditional medicinal plants; thus extending the conservation of local vegetation and biodiversity in the broad sense. Simple roadside planting carried out by members of the local community in urban and rural areas and by plant and ecosystem enthusiasts using seedlings distributed by governmental and non-governmental environmental protection agencies can be a very good starting point. Another simple approach is to purchase seedlings from local nurseries that specialize in medicinal and local plants can play an important role in establishing green areas through the process of ecological restoration.

Any particular unused plot of soil targeted may be submitted for planting in 2m X 2m plots during the year of establishment with 1-2m spacing between plots. By expecting at least 30-50% establishment, this effort can lead to successful ecological restoration with minimal manpower, cost, and management effort. Allowing to establish in successive years by including a mixture of annual, biennial and perennial medicinal herbs, shrubs and trees during establishment can help establish a natural ecological region enriching local biodiversity. The spaces between the plots and in and around the individual plants established in the successive ecological transformation will be filled in by local vegetation such as weeds, cultivated species and even ornamental plants. It is highly recommended to include warm and cool season annual and perennial grasses to use as good soil binders. The roots of these plants not only penetrate deep inside the soil profile, helping them to stick cohesively with soil particles; but also obtain water and nutrients from different depths in the soil, thereby reducing competition between various plant species.

In successive years after establishment, it is a good idea to make a few additional plantings to successfully fill in open or exposed soil areas and introduce species like neem, gamar, kurchi and similar plants into spaces that open. The area under eco-restoration should not be allowed to clear any natural vegetation growing on the ground except for invasive or alien species. No fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides should also be used to avoid chemical contamination and accidental mass destruction of the populations of environmentally friendly resident insects, birds and mammals that inhabit these restoration areas. Many local species that have not been planted have appeared in the area due to the dispersal of seeds by wind or birds. The councilor was asked, for the sake of biodiversity conservation, not to clean up the area.

Over time, the entire area subject to ecological restoration quickly turns into an organically grown dense natural forest with simple basic elements of our natural ecosystems. These organically generated natural forests have multiple layers of understory plants below the growing canopy of taller trees and eventually produce a thick, compact mat of decomposed and semi-decomposed leaf litter that serves as an important source of fertilizer. natural or organic for newly growing plants.

Pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies and ants are all disappearing first around the planet due to the excessive use of toxic synthetic chemical pesticides in agriculture and the severe anthropogenic industrial pollution. About 85% of flowering plants (including medicinal ornamental plants as well as forest trees) on our planet depend on these pollinating insects for their survival and maintaining the balance of our ecosystem. Not just insects, but several species of birds, bats, snails and slugs; as well as some species of lizards, small furry mammals like rodents, and even some species of mongooses have also been reported as good pollinators.

Among all natural pollinators, the most affected are bees (honey and native bees) due to excessive use of toxic pesticides, rapid transmission of various parasitic diseases, poor nutrition and lack of adequate foraging plants. (melliferous flora). Unfortunately, all of these species are in alarming decline around the planet. As global citizens, it is our responsibility to protect our fragile ecosystems by successfully conserving our farmer-friendly and environmentally friendly insect pollinators. If these pollinators disappear, our agricultural, beekeeping and forestry industries will be completely devastated. Ecology and economy must work hand in hand. Therefore, ecological restoration has an important role to play in protecting and conserving various vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered and potentially threatened endemic medicinal plants.

Such ecological restoration done in conjunction with integrated conservation of natural (biological) pollinators has been called Pollinator Sanctuary or Pollinator Garden. These gardens are not only visited by pollinating insects like bees, but also by reptiles, birds and mammals. Pollinator sanctuaries established using small, protected biological units on farm or cultivated field perimeters, on hard-to-reach or otherwise unproductive land not agronomically suitable, open areas in urban and rural areas, locations adjacent to water bodies and irrigation canals, lawns, boulevards, avenues, city parks, gardens, backyard vegetable garden are suitable for ecological restoration with excellent results. The avifauna attracted by such an ecologically restored and conserved habitat are different Skechers from rock pigeons, green legions, wagtails, orientalist magpie, sparrows, munia, tailor birds, orioles, barbets, woodpeckers, sterlings, doves, parakeets, local myna, drongos, sparrows, rufous tree pie, egrets, kingfishers, owls and owls, jungle babblers, crow pheasant, ravens, eagles to name a handful. Reptiles like garden lizards and amphibians like toads and frogs etc. feed and nest in these depleted forest areas. All of these biological species together provide integrated multilevel habitat conservation through effectively and efficiently executed ecological restoration projects. This integrated approach to eco-restoration not only contributes to the conservation of local medicinal plants, but also to the establishment and securing of local biodiversity.

Therefore, as a result of biodiversity, the process of ecological restoration has gradually started. In fact, I think the right choice of species, public participation, and the cooperation of local agencies and people are absolutely essential for ecological restoration. This type of restoration measures are needed in urban, rural and forest areas, wherever even small pockets of land are available. With increasing human populations and human activities without proper tracking and monitoring of their basic survival needs, we are putting medicinal plants and other components of our ecosystem at risk.

Alvin J. Chase