"Rape & Destruction" of Himalayan flora by Indian botanists, falsely claiming this to be 'ex-situ' conservation .. Discover the TRUTH!
IF intelligent seed-collection or the growing of plants originating in the Himalaya in gardens are not threats to the flora of the Himalaya, then are there any? YES, as I shall explain below. However, it is one thing to alert people to problems, what really matters is what can be done about them? Well, I do have solutions to quite a number of the challenges, if only I was listened to.... Sadly, it appears neither botanists, institutions, governmental organisations nor governments in the Himalaya are interested in GENUINELY conserving the flora of the Himalaya - nor are International Conservation organisations, despite shedding 'crocodile tears' ...... Strange old world..... Instead, our media is more interested in sensationalist, inadequately researched, tabloid-level stories INCLUDING AN ATTEMPT TO DISCREDIT ME!
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!!
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 FRAUDULENT.
Having both the skill, experience and expertise to understand what I am looking at in terms of individual plant species and vegetation (in fact my knowledge in this respect is second-to-none in the whole world) during my expeditions along the Himalaya (I actually go up into the mountains to see for myself - one cannot become an expert on Himalayan flora sat in an office or copying information from out-of-date publications littered with incorrect information and misidentifications) and having travelled more widely along the Himalaya than anyone with associated botanical knowledge, over a period of over 30 years, I consider my evidence is worth listening to. Despite my expertise in the study, cultivation and conservation of Himalayan flora our present-day world is too pre-occupied with celebrities & names or trust politicians and governments who often have little or no expertise.........
Number 1: The GREATEST risk to 'Rare & Endangered' species in the Himalaya is being DUG UP in futile attempts at ex-situ 'CONSERVATION' by Indian botanists!!
The PROPER way to ATTEMPT to grow RARE plants in botanical gardens in the Himalaya is, in every case possible, by SEED but local botanists (and indeed most Western botanists) know little or nothing about how to do this. Instead, presumably, as few local botanists can recognise plants when in seed, they instead, DIG UP, the SUPPOSEDLY 'Rare and Endangered' species, transporting them down thousands of feet, at the height of the summer, to be planted out under HOT and DRY conditions in 'botanic gardens'. Any gardener in the UK knows that TRANSPLANTING plants under such conditions makes no sense. Few, if any Indian botanists have training in horticulture and are NOT gardeners; hands-on gardening is viewed as inferior 'manual' labour... It is hardly surprising that ALMOST all of the plants DUG UP, from higher elevations in the Himalaya by them, rapidly EXPIRE..... Clever that. If you were to visit these botanic gardens, just a short time after they undertaken government-funded projects for ex-situ conservation of 'Rare & Endangered' species, they would have found it difficult to show you any of these plants being still alive... This is NOT the way to go about 'Ex-Situ' Plant Conservation!
The 'Snow Columbine' (AQUILEGIA NIVALIS) - dug up en masse by local botanists for a failed 'CONSERVATION' project! (photo: B.O.Coventry) - this species is not endemic (meaning only found there) to Kashmir, as has been falsely claimed in numerous articles; there are records for it in a number of different districts of Pakistan and it grows in Himachal Pradesh! There is nothing to suggest it is 'endangered' let alone 'critically so' - to CLAIM so is misleading, indeed downright false! It inhabits rocks & screes, habitats which are not currently under and threat in Kashmir or bordering states. Extensive surveys of the flora of Kashmir along with the whole of the Western Himalaya are required BEFORE one can tell that any species is genuinely rare. Why is the strictly limited time, funding & resources being devoted to species which are not uncommon or even abundant? This makes no sense, in fact should be viewed as fundamentally wrong. What about the plants which genuinely are 'rare and endangered'? They appear to have been abandoned to their fate.....
FORTUNATELY, it turns out that most of the SUPPOSEDLY 'RARE and ENDANGERED' species they have been digging up are neither RARE nor ENDANGERED! Nobody actual knows which species are GENUINELY rare, let alone endangered in the Western Himalaya. The whole situation is unsatisfactory to say the least.
Is Chris Chadwell willing and able to advise on better, more eco-friendly ways of GENUINE EX-SITU CONSERVATION OF WESTERN HIMALAYAN FLORA - yes! But the starting point MUST be to discover which species really are 'Rare & Endangered'......