Home Articles Use of GIS in Medicinal Plants Conservation Parks

Use of GIS in Medicinal Plants Conservation Parks

Vijay Barve, Deepa Thulasidasan, M. Abdul Kareem
Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions, Bangalore
FRLHT, 50 MSH Layout, Anandnagar, Bangalore 560024, India
Tel : +91-80-3336909, 3434465, 3330348
Fax : +91-80-3334167
Web : https://www.frlht-india.org/
Email : [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

Back ground of FRLHT :
Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT) was founded in 1993 with an objective to revitalize Indian Medical Heritage. FRLHT has been implementing one of the pioneering programs on conservation of medicinal plants collaborating with State Forest Departments and district level NGO’s of southern India.

The conservation program is of two kinds namely exsitu and insitu conservation of medicinal plants. In insitu conservation, about 54 medicinal plant conservation areas (MPCA) have been established with in the forest areas of southern India. As part of exsitu conservation, medicinal plant conservation parks (MPCP) have been established in four states with the support of local communities and NGOs.

Medicinal plant conservation parks or Ethnomedicinal forest (EMF) :
These parks or forests serve as community conservation education centers and repositories of the region’s medicinal plant resources and local health knowledge. The advantage of this program is that it is easy to supply planting material for propagation, re-introduction of native species, agronomic improvement, research and education from the network of medicinal parks. The parks are spatially dispersed so as to represent distinct agro-climatic zones in Southern India. Each MPCP is in the process of becoming a regional resource center of learning wherein there is authentic and thorough documentation available of the natural and cultural heritage of the region relating to medicinal plants. It also serves as a training center for rural households, schools, colleges and government departments on the conservation and sustainable use of medicinal plants, particularly in the context of primary health care. All the centers have planted an average of 250 species of medicinal plants, including Rare, Endangered and Threatened species (RET) in their respective EMFs.

Ethno-medicinal Forest (EMF) ranges from 5-20 hectares. This area is divided into several grids which is usually 1m x 1m. This is essentially a live collection of the region’s (district’s) entire medicinal plant diversity known to the local people and used by them for medicinal purposes. These plots mimic as far as possible the real forest type for the area. Attempts are also made to include possible genetic variations within the collection.

What is the need for MPCP-GIS package?
All the data related to EMF was written and stored in registers. Data is bulky and difficult to be managed. It is difficult to search through manual records for any species information and locate them in the specific grids for its availability and its mortality. This data would help the plantation planning process. More over it is not easy to locate desired species by physically visiting each grid or even searching to locate a species and its associated grid.

Our Aim of developing MPCP GIS package :
The main goal of this system is to provide a consistent and standardized way of capturing, storing and managing of data. Hence this package has been developed for effective management of spatial data and associated information on EMF. Information related to availability and accessibility of plant species, species diversity, and threat status can be retrieved in a user-friendly way.

Users of the System :
Basically there are two kinds of users

  1. Field Managers
  2. Regular visitors like Students and physicians of traditional systems of medicine, local communities, Folk healers, researchers, botanists, agriculturist, conservationist and others

Design of MPCP-GIS Package :
GIS package is developed using MapInfo 4 and MapBasic 4.

MPCP-GIS Package Concept :

Diagrammatic representation of function (outputs) of the system :

Why GIS?

  • As GIS is capable of assembling, storing, manipulating and displaying geographically referenced information i.e. data identified according to their location.
  • Structure of EMF is basically composed of three different layers namely girds, landscape elements and species planted. These layers can be combined into one image showing how they relate to one another and also analyze which part of the forest is more crumbled or less crumbled or which part of the forest has a particular species or which part of the forest has water bodies etc.

Scope of the System :

  1. Online data entry of plants.
  2. Filtering out species according to their habit i.e. small trees, big trees, herbs, shrubs, climbers.
  3. Filtering out species according to their status i.e. RET (Rare Endangered and Tthreatened), endemic (distribution is restricted to particular area), monotypic (only one species in a genus) and exotic (foreign plants).
  4. Information about a species where it is located in the grid, date when it was collected (accession information), location from where it was collected, flowering, fruiting, and its medicinal use.
  5. Marking a plant as dead (mortality).
  6. Grid wise reports i.e. counts of herbs, shrubs, climbers, small trees, big trees, list of species planted.

Functions of the System :

  1. This system serves as a road map to the users about EMF. It provides information on concept of establishing the EMF with associated elements before they actually visit.

  2. It helps the users in different ways i.e using this system one can easily locate any species for their study/ identification and reach the desired grid with ease.
  3. Major advantage of this system is that it helps field managers in planning plantation since it gives information about the mortality, number of big trees, small trees, herbs, shrubs, climbers etc in each grid. It becomes easy to plan which species has to be planted in which grid and at which location depending upon the habit and association of the species in its surrounding area.
  4. One can locate a species by its botanical name. It is also capable of locating a species by its vernacular name since all the users are not aware of botanical name of the species.
  5. This provides users grid wise details on species availability and its status.
  6. It gives detailed information of each species w.r.t flowering, fruiting, identification characters, medicinal uses, and herbarium number.
  7. This system helps in filtering out species as per its habit wise, threat, endemic and monotypic status

  8. This provides a facility where a user can get the name of the species indicated on the grid pictorially by clicking on it (see screen).

Conclusions :
The MPCP-GIS system has helped the MPCP in following ways :

  • The data maintenance related to EMF has become simple and effective.
  • The data retrieval is efficient .
  • The system is a very useful education tool for the visitors to conceptualize the EMF and retrieve specific information for their benefit.
  • The systems serves in management aspects of the EMF like re-plantation of dead specimen.