Activities which damage flora of Himalaya. Ignored by BBC! Why?


PLEASE NOTE THAT THE TOP TWO RISKS TO NW HIMALAYAN FLORA, I CAN REVEAL, ARE THE DIGGING UP OF SUPPOSEDLY 'RARE AND ENDANGERED', EVEN 'CRITICALLY ENDANGERED' SPECIES, FOR 1. FUTILE ATTEMPTS AT 'EX-SITU' CONSERVATION BY INDIAN BOTANISTS OR 2. UN-REGULATED PHYTO-CHEMICAL STUDIES BY INDIAN CHEMISTS AT INSTITUTIONS IN KASHMIR!! 

DOES THIS SUGGEST THAT FALSELY BLAMING A MINUTE AMOUNT OF SEED COLLECTION BY FOREIGNERS FOR THE DAMAGE TO PLANT POPULATIONS, MIGHT BE SOMETHING OF A 'SMOKE-SCREEN' BY INDIAN AUTHORITIES, TO COVER UP THEIR OWN FAILINGS.

AS FOR RISK NUMBER 3, THIS IS THE ILLEGAL COLLECTION AND SMUGGLING OF SPECIES USED IN AYUVEDIC (INDIAN) MEDICINE BY INDIANS.

RISK NUMBER 4, HABITAT DESTRUCTION THROUGH ROAD AND HOUSE BUILDING FOR INDIANS.

RISK NUMBER 5, UN-REGULATED OVER-GRAZING BY INDIAN-OWNED GOATS, SHEEP, WATER-BUFFALO, AND CATTLE.

RISK NUMBER 6, LANDSLIDES & SOIL-EROSION (MADE WORSE BY ROAD CONSTRUCTION) BY INDIANS.

RISK NUMBER 7, INDIAN TOURISTS DROPPING LITTER AND OTHER WASTE IN HIMALAYAN FOOTHILLS.

RISK NUMBER 8, TRAMPLING BY INDIAN TOURISTS (NUMBERS OF FOREIGNERS IS NEGLIGIBLE IN COMPARISON) AT LOWER PLUS AND INCREASINGLY HIGHER ELEVATIONS DUE TO ROAD AND SKI-LIFT CONSTRUCTION (SUCH AS GONDOLA AT GULMARG, KASHMIR) LEADING TO ACCESS TO RIDING PONIES, WHOSE SHOES DO GREATER DAMAGE (A SIMILAR SITUATION EXISTS ON THE ROHTANG PASS, HIMACHAL PRADESH).

RISK NUMBER 9, LITTER (AND OTHER WASTE) DROPPED BY BOTH FOREIGNERS AND INDIAN TOURISTS (OR AT LEAST THE TREKKING STAFF); WHEN MY HIMALAYAN TRAVELS BEGAN IN THE 1980s, IT WAS ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY EUROPEANS WHO PARTICIPATED IN SUCH TREKS.  THREE SUCH TREKS I LED FOR SPECIALIST UK TRAVEL COMPANIES BETWEEN 1985-87 TOOK CARE NOT TO DISCARD SUCH LITTER BUT OTHER COMPANIES, ESPECIALLY INDIAN ONES WERE NOT SO PARTICULAR, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO OPERATED ON THE CHEAP.

IT IS NOTEWORTHY THAT WITHIN ' VANISHING MEDICINAL PLANTS OF KASHMIR HIMALAYA' BY AIJAZ HASSAN GANIE & BILALA A TALI, RESERACH FELLOWS AT DEPARTMENT OF BOTANY, UNIVERSITY OF KASHMIR, MAKES, QUITE CORRECTLY, NO MENTION OF SEED COLLECTION, WHEN OUTLINING NO LESS THAN 13 THREATS TO KASHMIR FLORA - ALL BY INDIANS!

THE FARCICAL THING ABOUT RISK NUMBER 1, WAS THAT THE PATHETIC ATTEMPTS AT EX-SITU CONSERVATION OF SUPPOSEDLY 'RARE & ENDANGERED' PLANTS, WERE THAT THEY WERE BOUND TO FAIL, BECAUSE THOSE INDIAN BOTANISTS UNDERTAKING THEM UNDERSTOOD LITTLE ABOUT HOW TO CULTIVATE HIMALAYAN MOUNTAIN PLANTS; THE BEST WAY WOULD BE BY GATHERING THE SEED AND RAISING THE RESULTANT SEEDLINGS, GIVING A GREATER CHANCE OF ADAPTING TO THEIR NEW ENVIRONMENT, HOWEVER THE BOTANISTS IN CHARGE, ARE NOT HANDS-ON CULTIVATORS. THIS PRESENTS A MAJOR PROBLEM, AS CONSIDERABLE SKILL AND EXPERIENCE IS REQUIRED TO GROW SOME OF THESE SPECIES.  FURTHERMORE, THE GROUNDS OF UNIVERSITY OR INSTITUTE BOTANICAL GARDENS, SUCH AS IN SRIANAGAR, KASHMIR ARE OFTEN THOUSANDS OF METRES, LET ALONE FEET, LOWER THAN WHERE THE SPECIMENS WERE DUG-UP, ARE OFTEN UNSUITABLE FOR THEIR CULTIVATION.  INDIA'S DELIBERATE ISOLATIONISM BOTANY-WISE IS TO BLAME. I, MYSELF, REPEATEDLY OFFERED MY EXPERTISE IN BOTANY AND CULTIVATION OF HIMALAYAN FLORA TO INDIAN BOTANISTS (AT NO COST TO THEMSELVES) BUT WAS IGNORED.

FURTHERMORE, THERE WAS HELP AVAILABLE BY AN INDIAN EXPERT, NAMELY SHRI PREM NATH KOHLI, WHO ESTABLISHED P.KOHLI & CO., IN KASHMIR IN 1928. HE KNEW THE DIGGING UP OF MOUNTAIN PLANTS ON APHAWAT ABOVE GULMARG WAS DOOMED TO FAILURE, AS DID HIS DAUGHTER MRS URVASHI SURI, WHO TOOK OVER AS PROPRIETOR, AFTER HER FATHER'S SIGHT FAILED.  DURING CHRIS CHADWELL'S VISIT TO KASHMIR IN 1985, HE HELD DISCUSSIONS WITH MRS SURI ABOUT THEIR PLAN TO SET-UP A SMALL BOTANICAL GARDEN IN P.N.KOHLI'S HONOUR, AT HIGHER ELEVATION THAN SRINAGAR (WHICH IS ABOUT 1500m) SO THAT MOUNTAIN PLANTS COULD BE GROWN THERE.  TRAGICALLY, THE EXECUTION OF HER HUSBAND BY MILITANTS A FEW YEARS LATER PUT PAID TO THIS IDEA REACHING FRUITION.  STAFF AT THE UNIVERSITY OF KASHMIR FAILED TO CONSULT MRS SURI NOR MYSELF, FOUNDER AND EDITOR OF THE HIMALAYAN PLANT ASSOCIATION, WHO HAD HELPED BRING TOGETHER KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE ON THE CULTIVATION OF HIMALAYAN FLORA. 

RAISING HIMALAYAN PLANTS FROM SEED IS BOTH THE MOST ECO-FRIENDLY APPROACH AND WITH THE GREATEST CHANCE OF SUCCESS, AS IT DOES NOT DAMAGE WILD POPULATIONS OF PLANTS, WHEREAS 'DIGGING THEM UP', SELF-EVIDENTLY DOES.  TRANSPLANTING THEM, AT THE HEIGHT OF THE SUMMER, UP TO 2400m BELOW, INTO HOT, DRY BEDS IN E.G. THE UNIVERSITY OF KASHMIR'S BOTANICAL GARDEN, MAKES NO SENSE.  IT IS SURPRISING THAT ANYTHING SURVIVES AT ALL.  CERTAINLY SOME DO, AS MY VISIT THERE IN 2012 ILLUSTRATED. BUT THERE WERE, INEVITABLY, MANY LOSSES AS WELL.  DURING MY VISIT TO THE BOTANY DEPARTMENT, UNIVERSITY OF KASHMIR IN AUGUST 2012, I WAS GIVEN A COPY OF 'THE KASHMIR UNIVERSITY BOTANICAL GARDEN (KUBG): A PROFILE [2007].  IN IT WERE LISTED THE MOUNTAIN PLANTS SUCH AS AQUILEGIA  NIVALIS WHICH WAS ONE OF THE PLANTS WITHIN THE 'RECOVERY AND RESTORATION OF SOME CRITICALLY ENDANGERED ENDEMIC ANGEOSPERMS OF THE KASHMIR HIMALAYA' (2006).  BY 2012 THERE WAS NO SIGN OF THE AQUILEGIA OR ANY OF THE OTHERS. 

HOW CAN THE POPULATIONS OF CRITICALLY ENDANGERED SPECIES BE 'RESTORED' BY UP-ROOTING PLANTS, THEN WATCH THEM INEVITABLY EXPIRE IN THE KUBG AND HOW DOES THIS COUNT AS 'EX-SITU' CONSERVATION - EVEN IF THOSE SPECIES SURVIVED BEING TRANSPLANTED, ADJUSTING TO A NEW LIFE IN SRINAGAR, HAD THEY THEN BEEN REPLANTED ON APHAWAT, THEY WOULD ASSUREDLY HAVE RAPIDLY DIED, UNABLE TO ADJUST TO THE CONDITIONS SOME 2400m HIGHER?  FORTUNATELY, NEITHER AQUILEGIA NIVALIS NOR LAGOTIS CASHMERIANA ARE ENDANGERED, LET ALONE CRITICALLY-SO.  NOR ARE THEY KASHMIR ENDEMICS - ONE CAN E.G. FIND THE LATER SPECIES GROWING ON THE TOP OF THE ROHTANG IN HIMACHAL PRADESH AND THERE ARE PLENTY OF LOCATIONS FOR AQUILEGIA NIVALIS IN PAKISTAN.  TO SUGGEST THAT THEIR POPULATIONS HAVE BEEN MAINTAINED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF KASHMIR BOTANIC GARDEN IS GROSSLY MISLEADING, INDEED DOWNRIGHT FRAUGHT. 

SAUSSUREA COSTUS IS EASILY GROWN IN LARGE QUANTITY IN LAHAUL, AS IT HAS FOR ALMOST A CENTURY. 


Comments