The Western Ghats has considered as one of the biodiversity hot spots in the World that abounds a multitude of plants and animals in diverse kinds of vegetations. This region is rich in biodiversity with a high percentage of endemism; for instance, about 300 species out of an estimated 2000 species of flowering plants endemic to Western Ghats are found in this district. Many species in this district are included in the Red Data Books of the Botanical Survey of India and a large number of once commonly available species and varieties to communities have now become very rare or not expediently existing. Recent studies by MSSRF confirm the existence of about 650 medicinal plants, 343 wild food species, 150 vegetable varieties and about 14 traditional rice varieties. The landscape diversity varies from forests to bushes, thickets, rocky grass lands, fallow fields, springs, streams, canals and wetlands. Wetland is a fine example of a heterogeneous ecosystem in which a number of highly useful medicinal plants are being reported.

Ex-situ Conservation  Efforts In-situ Conservation  Efforts

M S Swaminathan Botanical Garden existing in the bio-valley of the Western Ghats will promote climate-smart biodiversity conservation and cultivation methods by linking the field gene banks, sacred groves, agroforests and the protected areas. Dynamic plant conservation practices comprise ex-situ and in-situ methods for all the critically important plant species of the Malabar region. The core objective of the garden is to promote integrated biodiversity conservation and to disseminate scientifically credible knowledge in understanding the role and functions of biodiversity in enhancing climate resilience. All activities of the Garden will be conducted for sustainable genetic resource management.  It will be made effective in partnership with the custodian farmers and tribal communities across the Malabar region by synergising modern science and traditional knowledge. Skills and strategies are intended for enhancing the community conservation efforts that have stronger impacts on the food, nutrition, health, and livelihood security. An extended arm of the botanical garden, Community Agrobiodiversity Centre (CAbC), evolved into a practical institution to achieve biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction, concomitantly in the biodiversity hotspot.

MSSBG conservatory

The conservation effort of the centre encompasses all types of Plant Genetic Resources (PGRs) having economic, medicinal, aesthetic and cultural values. The tribal and rural communities of Wayanad display a remarkable knowledge on traditional PGRs/cultivars that they either cultivate or collect from wild. This ensures the gene stock for further research and development in the area of Plant Genetic Resource Management. A study conducted by the Botany students as part of their course under the centre revealed that the homestead of local community of Wayanad and Custodian farmers harbours several varieties of Spices, Rice, Wild yams, Taros, Wild crop relatives, Traditional varieties and so on. A major outcome of the study was the establishment of a RET conservatory with over 100 tree species. The RET conservatory is now engaged in reintroduction and establishment of ex-situ Gardens in many other locations with the effort of the garden.

MSSRF has instigated a nutrition intervention, Food and Nutrition Security Initiatives (FANSI)’, with the core support of Department of Science and Technology (SEED Division)  for the reduction of malnutrition in tribes, for the enhancement of  agricultural biodiversity, cultivation of pulses through seed villages and livelihood.