Chhattisgarh University Student Leads Conservation Research on Endangered Medicinal Trees| IIT EXPERT



RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh, known for its rich herbs and forest medicines, is now facing a critical threat to its biodiversity. Due to a lack of conservation efforts, about 20 species of medicinal trees are on the verge of extinction. This alarming situation has prompted a student from the Forestry Department at Guru Ghasidas Central University (CU) Bilaspur to take action and conduct research to preserve these endangered plants.
Research scholar Anish Kumar Singh told the TOI that he has been working on an outside-inside population survey of two species, Dahiman (Cordia macleodii) and Rohina (Soymida febrifuga), which are found in the Ratanpur and Achanakmar forests and are now scarce. These plants have been struggling with changing weather, untimely rain, heat, and water shortages. Villages like Khaira and Gamhari in Baikunthpur block, once abundant with medicinal trees, are also seeing a decline due to a lack of protection.
Singh mentioned several challenges in his research, primarily the difficulty in gathering specimens due to the low population of medicinal trees and the reluctance of local people to share information, often due to their divine beliefs.
The two medicinal trees, once endemic, are now rarely seen within the state. Chhattisgarh, with its 1,525 medicinal plants, was declared a Herbal State in July 2001. However, rapid weather changes, settlement of villages in forests, and indiscriminate tree cutting for road expansion have pushed more than 20 rare species of medicinal plants in the district towards extinction.
A major reason for the endangerment of these medicinal plants and trees is destructive harvesting due to their unique and valuable properties, leading to a lack of propagation and making cultivation difficult. While herbs germinate easily, trees require extensive land, and when proper land is unavailable, production declines.
Dahiman has various medicinal properties such as healing wounds (leaf, bark), treating mouth sores (leaf) and jaundice (bark), and has potential uses in cancer treatment. It also provides relief from mental pain, blood pressure, and jaundice.
Rohina has tremendous medicinal potential as an antibacterial, anti-cancer remedy, anti-microbial, anti-helminthic, anti-inflammatory, and for treating uterine bleeding, dental diseases, haemorrhage, sore throats, and blood coagulation. Baigas and tribal women use these plants postpartum to avoid vaginal infections and to purify blood.
Singh is primarily researching the conservation of these plants. He is currently working on stabilizing nursery conditions to understand the reasons behind the failure of automatic germination and further survival. Once stabilization is achieved, the plants will be transplanted outside with the help of the forest department. Singh has been conducting this research for four years.
Students of the Forestry Department of CU noted that from 2020 to 2022, medicinal trees and plants were abundant, including Dahiman, Rohina, Gamhar, Palash, Harya, Bahera, Satavar, Kochila, and Arjun, in various villages of the district. Each of these medicinal plants has distinct characteristics. However, even in villages like Khaira and Gamhari, these valuable medicinal trees are becoming extinct due to a lack of protection.





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