Ex situ and in-situ conservation of medicinal plants with particular reference to jammu and kashmir state
Ex-situ and In-situ Conservation of Medicinal plants with particular reference
to Jammu and Kashmir State
Javed Iqbal Punjoo (IFS)
(Conservator of Forests, South circle, J&K Forest Department)
The Jammu & Kashmir State possesses great altitudinal variation, diverse geological
formation and different climatic zones viz. Subtropical, Temperate and cold Arid resulting in the
diversity in its flora and fauna. The forests of the State have been damaged, like in other parts of
the country, due to intense pressure from the increasing human and cattle population and overexploitation. Feeling a dire need to protect and supplement the depleted Medicinal Plant
resource, efforts have been made by the J&K forest department to take intensive and extensive
measures for their conservation and development. The locations where initiatives have been
taken include Reasi, Rajouri, Udhampur, Billawar, Kathua, Jammu, Baderwah Forest Divisions
in Jammu region and Sindh, Bandipora, Anantnag Forest Division in Kashmir region besides Leh
and Kargil Forest Division in Ladakh region.
The forest area of the State is 20,230 Sq. km. which amounts to 19.19% of total
geographical area of the state. The Ladakh region is devoid of significant forest cover and is
termed as cold desert. As such excluding Ladakh the Forest area equals to about 48% of the
geographical area of the State.
With the decline in density of dominant species in the natural forest, the associates are
also receding. Some species have even disappeared from a particular location and few others
particularly of medicinal nature are near extinction from some other location. More than 50% of
the plant species used in British pharmacopoeia were reported to grow in the State of J&K.
About 572 plant species have been reported to be of Medicinal value by various sources which
belong to 109 different families of plants. Demand for medicinal plants is increasing due to
growing recognition of natural products being non-narcotic, having no side-effects, easily
available at affordable prices and sometimes the only source of health care available to the poor.
During the past, medicinal plants were being extracted from the forests regularly by people either
for their domestic or commercial use. The department earlier would regularly put MFP to auction
and the concerned agencies would remove the plant(s) or their part(s) without any consideration
for their conservation.
The Biodiversity and the valuable germplasm occurring in the forests of the state,
constituting its precious bio-resource is not only required to be protected and conserved, but at
the same time developed and tapped judiciously for the sustainable development of the people of
the State and the country, keeping in view the global scenario particularly in the field of
conservation of bio-resources. For the purpose of conservation and replenishment of natural
stocks, extraction of all MFP (actually termed NTFP) except Gucchies and Anardana from forest
were banned in the J&K State for a period of 5 years since 2004 vide PCCF Notification No.
PCCF/MFP/Extraction/111-14 dated 29.06.2004. This order was not reversed till 2013 when, on
the recommendations of an expert committee the J&K Forest Department has lifted the ban on
extraction of NTFP from forest areas, however restricting the removal to the above ground
vegetative and floral portions only without removal or extraction
of the below ground
propagating and root portions. The J&K Kuth Act which in the past prohibited cultivation of
certain important Medicinal Plants in J&K State was also amended to facilitate taking up of
cultivation of Medicinal Plants by the people on their own farms, private waste lands and
community lands to meet the requirements of pharmaceutical industry and practitioners of Indian
System of Medicine. Government of J&K has identified the “Cultivation of Medicinal and
Aromatic Plants” as a thrust area in its State Forest Policy 2011. Necessary steps are being taken
to implement this policy by the Government.
Material and Methods
The Medicinal Plants growing in the forests of Jammu & Kashmir are mostly in the form
of Herbs and Shrubs, both annual and perennial. Usually the ripening time is July to October.
Natural regeneration is obstructed by many reasons which include biotic interference, poor seed
set, poor seed viability and harsh climatic conditions. Different measures for augmentation with
artificial regeneration are necessary to multiply these species in different suitable areas by
vegetative and other means, besides taking other measures for their conservation. Efforts have
been made in the state to undertake cultivation of different Medicinal Plants which are of
commercial importance and include:
Temperate Zone Medicinal Plants (Herbs and Shrubs)
Rheum emodi, Aconitum heterophyllum, Saussurea lappa, Digitalis purpurea, Dioscorea
deltoidea, Artemisia maritina, Atropa belladona, Podophyllum hexandrum, Picrorrhiza kurooa,
Valeriana wallichi etc
Sub-Tropical Area (Herbs & Shurbs)
Acorus calamus, Boerhaavia diffusa, Gloriosa superba, Rauvolfia serpentina, Tinospora
Sub-Tropical Area (Tree Species)
Acacia catechu, Aegle marmelos, Cassia fistula, Emblica officinalis, Sapindus mukrossi,
Terminalia arjuna, Terminalia belerica, Terminala chebula, etc
Cold Arid (Ladakh) zone
Hiphophae rhamnoides, Artemisia spp., Rheum emodi, Rumex spp.etc.
To undertake survey and inventory of Medicinal Plants.
To promote cultivation and growth of important Medicinal Plant species and
replenish the depleted wild stocks in the forests.
To standardize sustainable harvesting methods for conservation of concerned
To supplement supply of medicinal plants / their parts for use in Ayurvedic /
To explore the commercial viability of growing medicinal plants as an option
in degraded lands to farmers.
To generate Public awareness for need of conservation of Medicinal Plants
and their propagation.
Conservation of rare and threatened medicinal plant species of the State.
Reducing the pressure on natural plants coming up in natural forests
Improvement of local health scenario in the villages encouraging traditional
health care system of the State.
Making available the plants and their products for ISM (Indian System of
Baseline survey/ inventory and occurrence of Medicinal Plants
There is need to conduct fresh survey in forest and other areas to find out different
medicinal and aromatic plants growing therein along with their analytical characteristics such as
frequency, density and species abundance. A stock map of each unit area should follow the
survey report indicating the presence of useful medicinal plant species. Proper identification is
pre-requisite for collection of genuine material as some of the species resemble each other to the
extent that proper differentiation by an expert is most essential. In case of J&K first very
intensive survey of Kuth fields was conducted in the year 1993 as there was lot of demand for
kuth. As reported by different agencies the locational distribution of Medicinal Plants in the state
Sub-Tropical zone (1000-6000 ft above msl)
Ramnagar Forest Division
Kalounta, Saamnabarj, Dudu
Emblica officinalis, Sassaurea
odorata, Jurinea macrophylla,
Nowshera Forest Division
Thandapani closure and Taryath
pistacia integerima, Zanthoxylum
Binyal/Sungal, Nandni, Akhnoor, Adhatoda
Chinota, Mathwar, Parmundal, superb,
Emblica officinalis and other
Kathua Forest Division
catechu, Terminalia belerica and
other sub-tropical species.
Sub Tropical to Temperate zone (3000 & 6000-10000 ft above msl)
Rajouri, Budhal, Sheshra Forest
Jurinea macrophylla, Valeriana
wallichi, Acorus calamus and
other temperate and sub-tropical
Billawar Forest Division,
Banjal, Bani Basholi, Sukrala, Emblica officinalis, Sassaurea
deltoidea, Terminalia chebula.
Temperate to Alpine zone ( 6000 to 10000 ft above msl)
Bandipora Forest Division
heterophyllum, Artemisia spp ,
Atropa belladona, Podophyllum
Langate Forest Division
Marwa Forest Division
Chattroo, Sinthan, Marwa
deltoidea, Jurinea macrophylla,
Kishtwar Forest Division
Kishtwar, Padder, Machail
deltoidea, Jurinea macrophylla.
Doda Forest Division
Keshwan and Kotal
deltoidea, Jurinea macrophylla.
Baderwah Forest Division
Chinta, Jai, Seoj
Sassaurea lappa, Viola odorata,
Batote Forest Division
Marmat, Sanasar, Gandhri
Sassaurea lappa, Taxus spp.
Mahore Forest Division
Sangladan, Gool, Mahore
macrophylla, Sassaurea lappa
Alpine to Cold Arid zone ( 10000ft above msl)
Leh Forest Division
Artemisia spp., Rheum emodi,
Kargil Forest Division:-
rhamnoides , Sassaurea lappa,
The forests of Sindh Forest Division are bestowed with wide variety of Medicinal plants. To
determine the percentage presence and frequency of different medicinal species a general survey
during 2004 in this Division has been conducted by the DFO working plan, laying 166 sample
plots of 0.1 Ha each with 6640 quadrates, randomly and the results as depicted in its revised
working plan of 2004-05 to 2013-14 are as under:
Total no. of
Aconitum heterophyllum Patis
The J&K State Forest Research Institute (SFRI) has conducted a quick survey in GurezTilel valley with altitude ranging from 2300 – 5209 m for Medicinal Plants distribution.
Artemisia brevifolia & Saussurea costus are reported the most important plants found in
abundance. The survey conducted in compartments 34/K, 47/K, 15/K, 56/K, 57/K, 58/K, 62/K,
24/T, 43/T, 28/T and 34/T by SFRI has revealed that area is still rich in medicinal plants,
common out of which as found in the survey plots are shown as under. The area has a promising
potential to develop the herbal industry on a sustainable basis if proper regulatory & protective
measures are adopted. However a complete survey is required to be done in this direction
throughout the state.
Planting Stock / Nurseries
The J&K Forest Department has established nurseries and is further in the process of
revival of old Drug Farms in phased manner for production and propagation of germplasm /
nursery stock required for planting out in the field to supplement the depleting stocks of naturally
growing species in the wild. The main herbal species grown include Pyrethrum spp, Atropa
belladona, Valeriana wallichi, Artemisia spp, Dioscorea deltoidea, Digitalis spp, Lavendulla spp
Name of the Location
Established Total Area
In-situ Conservation is usually the preferred conservation strategy for capturing and
conserving Medicinal Plant pockets in their natural habitats. Stress is laid on identification of
Medicinal Plant areas having rich biodiversity of genetic resources that have priority, usually at
the species level on the basis of present or potential socio-economic value of the species and
their conservation status in the ecosystem along with group of its associate species. The areaspecific action plan and networking of natural sites has to be considered to be the most important
aspects of in-situ conservation activities. The ecological requirement of many of the species is
complex. Hence moving them out of their own area of comfort to new area may sometime prove
counterproductive. Hence by improving the protection, removing all kind of threats is one of the
important steps towards insitu conservation. Conservation units are not kept too small because
this will cause continuous loss of genetic diversity by the effects of genetic drift and increased
inbreeding. Considering this, the area has got to be large enough for maintaining the genetic
integrity of the original population and for generating enough seed production.
Even though PAN which includes National Parks, Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves,
Community reserves etc. are mainly targeted for animal species, yet these areas enjoy more
protection and stringent laws which benefits them and provide the best type of protection
methodology for all the animal and plant species existing there which include the medicinal
plants as well. The J&K state having 5 NP and 14 sanctuaries is subjected to another peculiar
biotic interference in the form of migratory/nomadic graziers. Even though, it is one of the
important economic activity and a major source of protein to its people, still they pose lot of
threat to medicinal plants and its conservation efforts. As these activities are kept at a lowest
inside PAN networks, apart from protecting the principal species, it also helps in protecting
tertiary species like medicinal plants. Some of the PAN areas like Dachigam NP and Rajpariyan
Sanctuary in Anantnag district have more bio-diversity, more medicinal plants wealth due to
reduced human interference there. Some of the reserves like Achabal Conservation Reserve
(Rakh) have thick forests and are denser compared to nearby compartments/forests.
The scientific management of forests can provide enabling environment for the medicinal
plant species to flourish. It involves canopy manipulation to provide light, controlling of other
unwanted species, control of Invasive species, removal of humus to provide ground access to
seeds of medicinal plants, soil and moisture conservation works to prevent soil erosion and to
improve soil moisture regime etc. Enabling environment also involves getting the public support
for the protection. As forest dependent communities are major stakeholders, it is very important
that they get the benefit out of medicinal plant conservation programmes. Involving JFMCs is
one of the activities. Severe restrictions can only give counterproductive results. Providing
employment opportunities and sharing economic benefits with JFMCs can definitely help.
Medicinal Plants Conservation Areas (MPCAs)
The concept was experimented by FRLHT Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health
Traditions (FRLHT) – a Bangalore based Non Government Organisation (NGO). It has
established 34 MPCAs in South India. The
establishment of MPCAs is to create so-called
„hand-off- areas‟. However the management of MPCAs as „hand-off areas‟ remained debatable.
Strict protection of MPCAs as envisaged is found to be difficult. The major lessons learned by
FRLHT with regard to the sustainability of the in-situ conservation are useful for any state
including J&K to replicate, which include that:
the interest of the State Forest Departments in the MPCAs needs to be sustained
an appropriate village level organisation is put in place to ensure active participation of
local village communities for the protection and management of MPCAs
the management of the conservation areas should be provided for
the role, the conservation efficiency and the regulation of use of the MPCAs is
clarified as a basis for future plans and monitoring.
Ex-Situ Conservation of Medicinal Plants
Ex-situ conservation involves the process of protecting an endangered species and
developing it outside its natural habitat. For medicinal plants, Ex-situ Conservation aims at the
conservation concern by way of raising of nurseries, seedling supply, plantations and by
establishing medicinal plant gardens. Establishment and Management of Ex-situ Conservation
stands requires the complete knowledge of the forest trees, shrubs and herbs which have
developed complex mechanism to maintain high level of genetic diversity, both inter-specific and
intra-specific . It provides the building blocks for future evolution, selection and human use in
breeding for a wide range of sites and uses. Ex-situ conservation of medicinal plant resides
within and among populations of target species. It includes either simple seed collection, storage
and field plantings or more intensive plant breeding and improvement approaches. The important
aspect of ex-situ conservation is to maintain a wide range of phenotypic and genotypic range of
diversity of a species and to propagate the species outside its original natural provenance in a
more controlled way. The choice of species for ex-situ conservation is made on the basis of the
current local importance of the species, economic value for the subsistence of local population,
ecological and geographic considerations and capacity for natural regeneration and the current
However many factors which include disease, pests and environmental requirements etc.
limit the scope of Ex-situ conservation of many plant species. Even though ex-situ conservation
measures can come handy, they cannot prevent a species from getting extinct. Also some species
cannot be grown outside their natural habitat due to its association with other organisms, specific
Plantation on private land through seedling distribution
Because of Social Forestry Project in the State, the farmers have adopted tree planting.
Efforts are underway to popularize Medicinal Plants plantation in farm lands. For this purpose
training on plantation and extraction techniques shall have to be imparted to farmers.
Herbal gardens in the different climatic zone of the State are in the process of
establishment viz Kangan in Ganderbal district ( Temperate zone), Rajouri and Manyal in
Rajouri district ( Sub-tropical zone) and Choglamsar in Leh district ( Cold desert zone). The
main objectives are to i) conserve Medicinal Plants and demonstrate their
technology, ii) establish a gene pool of indigenous and exotic species for conservation, research
and propagation, iii) popularize the cultivation and use of medicinal plants in the area amongst
local people, iv) establish medicinal plants resource base on sustainable basis, v) develop a
centre for tourist attraction to help popularize the Indian Systems of medicine and vi) raise and
distribute quality Medicinal Plant seedling or its propagating material among the local farmers.
To begin with the formation of herbal gardens in the state have been initiated over an area
of about 2 Ha each with an intention to extent it gradually. Standardization of post harvesting
technology including storage conditions is also aimed at. Proper cost effective Irrigation system
is preferred. A polyhouse, Reception cum demonstrative centre / hut, small children park,
aesthetically designed walkways with proper landscaping and herbal beds, hedges are also made.
The special process like cryopreservation of germplasm in the form of seed for long years
as one of the measures has to be undertaken. There can also be a kind of special type of
arboretum where in plants can be grown repeatedly to collect and preserve seeds till viability
lasts. Presently such kinds of facilities are available at experimental stage with SK University of
Agricultural Science and Technology „Jammu‟ and SK University of Agricultural Science and
Capacity building, Training Programme and Research
In order to make medicinal plants conservation programme successful, there is need for
training the front line staff from Forest Guard to Forest Ranger officer level. It is also essential to
provide training to JFMCs so that their support can be harnessed in the medicinal plants
Capacity building, creating awareness and involvement of local communities is yet to be
properly taken care of among all the stakeholders through training, exposure tours, awareness
campaign etc. In Ladakh region initiatives have been taken for training private stakeholders for
proper techniques for cultivation, collection of berries of Hiphophae rhamnoides and its
conversion into pulp through Cooperative Societies for better yield and more profitable
To enhance the productivity level as well as for ensuring the sustainability of the
activities the works shall be aimed at the following items:The conduct of research activities, assessment study, enumeration of Medicinal Plant
population density, evolving regeneration techniques, developing appropriate plantation
techniques and technique for extraction of medicinal content are also required to be done through
different resource agencies.
These include : People- the actual user of medicinal plant and its derivatives, traders,
Traditional vaids- practicing the Ayurvedic or the Unani method of treatment, Tribals i.e Gujjars,
Bakerwals and Gadies, Forest department-the major custodian of naturally available medicinal
plant resource and Research organizations/Universities/NGOs.
Results - work done by the Department
The demand, economics and existence of natural growing areas has necessitated the
measures to be taken towards conservation and development of Medicinal Plants on large scale
which simultaneously provide livelihood avenues for the local communities. The efforts of the
Forest Department has resulted in bringing 1093 ha under the programme in Jammu & Kashmir
during 4 years from the period 2009-10 to November 2012 with planting mainly of different
herbal species along with other trees and shrubs which suit most to the locality.
S. No Activity
Area (ha) Plants (Lacs)
Baderwah, Katra and Panchari
Kashmir Naranag, Lammar and Domail
(Insitu) Conservation Jammu
Baderwah, Jai, Katra, Panchari,
Ramkote and Udhampur
Kashmir Naranag, Gund, Sonamarg,
Kangan, Gagangir, Poshkar and
Nobra, Choglamsar, Nyoma,
Durbuk and Kargil
Rajouri and Manyal
The In-situ measure for conservation of medicinal plants alone cannot be successful as
number of factors like biotic interference, unforeseen natural calamities etc. effect the success.
Even though area under PAN in J&K state is one of the largest in India, yet In-situ conservation
has not to be left alone to PAN areas wherein the exploitation is restricted. The methodology for
conservation of medicinal plants both In-situ (along with establishment of MPCAs) and Ex-situ
has to be adopted in combination, besides initiatives for scientific propagation of Medicinal
Plants on required scale. Again, it is very essential that livelihood of forest dependent
communities are kept in consideration as they are the major stake holders to share the benefits. It
is also very essential to improve the capacity of front line staff to equip them to face the present
day challenges in conservation of medicinal plant wealth.
Floristics & Productivity Studies of Gurez-Tulil, J&K State Forest Research Institute,
Publications of FRLHT, Bangalore
Report on Medicinal Plant conservation and development in J&K of the Forest
Working plan Sindh Forest Division, Ganderbal Kashmir, J&K state.