CEC member Vineet Soni is carrying out community-based conservation efforts to conserve and raise awareness among local rural and tribal people about the threatened plants in Rajasthan.
The erosion of plant biodiversity is a matter of global concern. The problem is more acute in regions of extreme climates; as such regions are poor in biodiversity. Rajasthan, the arid and semi-arid zone and largest state of India, is stated to have a large number of species that are endemic to this region. Many of them serve as sources of fuel, food, timber, fiber, medicine etc., and function as an integral part of local agricultural production systems. Extinction of plant diversity in such extreme regions may be an irreversible loss from socio-economic, scientific and utility point of view. Therefore, CEC member Dr. Vineet Soni, a plant biologist from Mohanlal Sukhadia University, Udaipur (India), is using biotechnological as well as community-based strategies to conserve these highly valued plant species.
Dr. Soni, has successfully developed the in vitro method to propagate many plant species such as Commiphora wightii, Barleria prionitis, Asparagus racemosus, Phyllanthus amarus, Plumbago zeylanica etc. According to him, biotechnological methods would reduce the pressure on the species' natural population and thus help conserve these valuable plants. Plants developed in vitro are finally transferred in their natural habitats.
Soni strongly believes in community based conservation approaches for protecting the plant biodiversity. Therefore, after receiving the positive results of ‘Save Guggul Movement’, he is now running the education awareness programmes to aware people about the importance and conservation of plants, which are facing the threat of extinction. Rural and tribal communities of Rajasthan directly or indirectly depend on plant resources mainly for herbal medicines, food, forage, construction of dwellings, making household implements, sleeping mats, and for fire and shade. These people not only depend on wild plants as sources of food, medicine, fodder and fuel, but have also developed methods of resource management, which may be fundamental to the conservation of some of the world's important habitats. Therefore, Dr Soni directly interacts with these local and tribal people for documenting their vast ethno-botanical knowledge and also to learn various traditional resource management practices.
‘As per our ground level survey, more than 60 plants are facing the threat of extinction in Rajasthan state. It is a very serious and alarming condition. Indian animals facing extinction are widely talked about but many tree species are quietly slipping into extinction and nobody seems to care. In my views, it is highly required to aware people about the conservation and importance of threatened plant species. I am always happy to welcome volunteers from all over the world who desire to contribute in conservation of threatened plant biodiversity of Rajasthan state of India.” says Dr Soni.
Dr. Vineet Soni
Ph.D., PostDoc (Switzerland), FBS, FLS
Member: IUCN CEC, WCPA and SSC