“There are many medicinal uses of plants known to various ethnic groups that remain undocumented,” stated Dr. V.S. Ramachandran, Scientist at the Amrita Centre for Environmental Studies in Coimbatore.
Dr. Ramachandran recently received a grant from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government of India to document traditional knowledge of the Walayar Valley of Western Ghats region.
The project, which will be ongoing for three years, will develop a detailed inventory of all medicinal and aromatic plants in the region.
“Hardly one percent of the plant life of this region has been chemically screened and tested for the curative properties against various diseases,” Dr. Ramachandran stated.
Together with his team, Dr. Ramachandran will proceed on exploratory surveys and interactive field trips with tribal chieftains known to be knowledgeable about medicinal plants in the area.
The team will also lay out sample plots to perform studies with the vegetation.
The plants used in different ancient systems of medicine such as Ayurveda, Siddha and folk medicine will be studied and their healing properties known to the tribal societies will be documented.
The study will also evaluate threats to the preservation and dissemination of this knowledge, if any. The on-field documentation of ethno botanical information will include rare and endangered medicinal plants.
“Bio-resources of forests are fundamental to our human existence; we depend on them for food, fodder, medicine, energy, raw materials for shelter, clothing and industries,” stated Dr. V.S. Ramachandran.
Dr. Ramachandran has published several papers in journals during the eight years he has engaged in forestry research. His research interests include disturbance ecology, population dynamics of tropical trees, forest floristic dynamics, conservation biology, liana ecology and eco-restoration of degraded landscapes.
After beginning his research career in the Kerala Forest Research Institute as a research scholar, he joined Amrita in June 2009. His former guides Dr. K. Swarupanandan, Scientist and Research Co-ordinator, Kerala Forest Research Institute and Dr. M. Remesh, Assistant Professor, Jimma University, Ethiopia continue to mentor him.
“I am grateful to my guides for their support,” he stated.
“I have this project due to the blessings from Chancellor Amma. I pray that I am able to successfully complete the research,” he added.
March 8, 2012
Center for Environmental Studies, Coimbatore