CEC member Vineet Soni is carrying out education awareness programmes in his ‘Save Guggul Movement’ to raise awareness among local rural and tribal people in Rajasthan about the IUCN red-listed plant Commiphora wightii.
Commiphora wightii, locally known as guggul, is a small, slow-growing tree found in the arid and rocky tracts of Aravali Hills of Rajasthan and Gujarat. The plant’s resin has been a key component in the ancient Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine as an effective treatment for bone fractures, arthritis, inflammation and obesity, and is now widely used in modern medicine for heart problems. But guggul has become scarce because of over-harvesting by the pharmaceutical industry and by local people for religious purposes. This plant is incorporated in Data Deficient category of IUCN’s Red Data list.
During my post doctorate research at Geneva University (Switzerland), I was highly inspired by the nature-loving nature of Swiss people. I realized that conservation cannot work without the involvement of the people who depend on biodiversity. Therefore, after returning to India, I started community-based conservation efforts under the theme “Save Guggul Movement” in Rajasthan to conservation IUCN` this high-valued medicinal plant species. This conservation work initially received support from the IUCN Sir Peter Scott Fund.
A number of activities have been identified and conducted through the close co-operation of the village level communities who lives around the Aravali Hills of Rajasthan state. Community-groups are also prepared of different age, to disseminate conservation massage. A campaign is started with series of local workshop, with a motive to conserve the guggul plants and their habitat, their relationship with other wildlife and roll in daily life of locals, and also highlighted as a key indicator of desert ecosystem.
Through meetings, talks and discussions, the local communities are now more aware of the threats faced by guggul plants and how endangered they are. Subsequently, several workshops are being organizing which includes slide shows and poster exhibitions at different villages and in local schools.
Really! Community-based conservation can never fail. Efforts should be made to mobilize local people to conserve areas of high biodiversity, and thereby improve the natural resource assets of rural populations. By engaging local people to conserve biodiversity, a broad-based, long-term strategy can be formulated for the conservation of globally threatened biodiversity.