State digs into folk knowledge to discover biodiversity wonders
Gujarat Biodiversity Board (GBB) has embarked on a massive project to prepare "people's biodiversity registers" (PBR) containing comprehensive information about folk knowledge of local biological resources, their medicinal and other uses or any other traditional knowledge associated with them.
As the knowledge about biological resources are available only with the local people, the board is roping in the services of the villagers and has set up 1,200 biodiversity management committees (BMCs) in 19 districts of the state for preparing PBRs. The work to set up BMCs in rest of the districts is under progress.
The board has also signed memorandum of understandings (MoUs) with 102 village panchayats in five districts of the state to prepare PBRs. Since villagers have only folk knowledge of the natural resources in their area and are not aware of their scientific names, they are being assisted by experts from various disciplines like forestry, agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, fisheries and microbiology for scientific documentation of the plant and animal resources of the areas.
The experts assisting in these fields have been drawn from Centre for Environment Education (CEE), Viksat, GIDE Institute, Sahjivan, Supath and Gujarat Ecology Commission and forest officials from Junagadh.
Speaking to The Indian Express, the board's member-secretary A P Singh said the idea was to collect all information related to the local biodiversity like the type of plants, crops, medicinal plants, wild plants, type of soil, water resources and even microorganism and then preserve and use them for enhancing productivity and profitability of agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries and forestry etc.
He said such a documentation was also necessary to protect and conserve those species that were very useful for growth and development but were under threat of extinction due to various reasons.
He said that drugs for several diseases could be patented with folk knowledge of the people in forest and rural areas. According to board officials, scientists from all over the world are collecting folk knowledge of medicinal plants and working on them to find drugs for diseases for which there was no treatment so far.
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