Western Ghats Offer Major Additions to Flora: BSI

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    In News 

    • Recently, the Botanical Survey of India’s Plant Discoveries 2020 was released by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

    About 

    • The BSI every year compiles and documents new plant discoveries, playing a central role to fulfil India’s global commitment of comprehensive documentation and identification of plant diversity of the country. 

    Major Findings of the Discovery

    • It has added 267 new taxa/ species to the country’s flora and of these 202 plant species are new to science while 65 others had never been reported from India.
      • The new discoveries include 119 angiosperms; 3 pteridophytes; 5 bryophytes, 44 lichens; 57 fungi, 21 algae and 18 microbes.

                                                   Image Courtesy:TOI

    • Among the new discoveries this year, nine new species of balsams (Impatiens) one species of wild banana (Musa pradhanii) were discovered from Darjeeling,  one species each of wild Jamun (Sygygium anamalaianum) from Coimbatore and fern species (Selaginella odishana) were recorded from Kandhamal in Odisha.
    • There are 14 new macro and 31 new micro fungi species recorded from various parts of India.

     

          

                                                       Image Courtesy: TH

    •  Geographical distribution of these newly discovered plants:  22% of the discoveries were made from the Western Ghats followed by Western Himalayas (15%), Eastern Himalayas (14%) and Northeast Ranges (12%). 
      • The West coast contributed 10% while the East Coast contributed (9%) in total discoveries; the Eastern Ghats and South Deccan contributed 4% of each while Central Highland and North Deccan added 3% each.

    Importance of Discovery 

    • India has about 45,000 species of plants, already identified and classified, which account for about 7% of the total plant species of the world. 
      • About 28% of the Indian plants are endemic to the country.
    • India being a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is committed to working towards the prime objective of the Global Strategy of Plant Conservation and the newly discovered species may offer a potential source of wild edible plants, traditional drugs, cosmetics and wild relatives of crop plants.

    Western Ghats

    • The Western Ghats of India is one of the global biodiversity hotspots owing to its endemism of flora and fauna.
    • The northern part of this biodiversity hotspot, along with the Konkan region, is considerably different from its southern and central parts on account of lesser precipitation and extended dry season.
    • They are spread through states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
    • The Ghats are often called the Great Escarpment of India and are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    • The Western Ghats are internationally recognized as a region of immense global importance for the conservation of biological diversity, besides containing areas of high geological, cultural and aesthetic values. 
    • Features: 
      • Older than the great Himalayan mountain chain,
        • Older than the great Himalayan mountain chain, the Western Ghats of India are a geomorphic feature of immense global importance.
      • Influence the Indian monsoon 
        • The mountains of the Western Ghats and their characteristic montane forest ecosystems influence the Indian monsoon weather patterns that mediate the warm tropical climate of the region, presenting one of the best examples of the tropical monsoon system on the planet. 
        • The Ghats act as a key barrier, intercepting the rain-laden monsoon winds that sweep in from the southwest during late summer.
      •  High level of biological diversity
        • It also has an exceptionally high level of biological diversity and endemism and is recognized as one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity. 

    Botanical Survey of India (BSI)

    • It is  the apex taxonomic research organization of the country under the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Government of India was established on 13th February 1890 under the direction of Sir George King. The organization’s mandate was to explore, collect, identify and document the rich plant resources of erstwhile British India. 

     

    Source: TH