Saving the Guggul Tree

Community-based conservation action in Rajasthan, India drives effort to save an important medicinal plant.

Propagation of plants for medicinal harvesting

Commiphora wightii or 'Guggul', as it is known locally, is derived from the Aravali hills of Rajasthan state. The plant’s gum-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. Now it is also widely used in modern medicine for heart problems. Unfortunately, the Guggul Tree has become scarce because of over-harvesting for its valuable resources.

In 2008, The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ listed 45 tree species from India as Critically Endangered and 246 plant species as Threatened. Guggul is listed as Data Deficient because of lack of research to establish its conservation status.

“Indian animals facing extinction are widely talked about but hundreds of plant species are quietly slipping into extinction and nobody seems to care,” says CEC member Vineet Soni, Assistant Professor in the School of Life Science, Jaipur National University, Jaipur, India.

"Conservation cannot work without the involvement of the people who depend on biodiversity. Therefore, with the help of friends, I am organizing a series of awareness programmes in different rural areas of Rajasthan state about the importance of plants and their conservation," Vineet explains.

The Guggal Bachao Abhiyan (Save Guggul Movement) in carried out in collaboration with villagers and friends, and is receiving warm appreciation from the local villagers and tribes. This conservation work has received support from the IUCN Sir Peter Scott Fund.
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