Srinagar: A new plant species has been discovered in the Bangus valley of the Kupwara district.
The discovery holds significance given the fact that the conservation of plants in Kashmir has not generated the sense of urgency or the funding that drives the conservation of animals, although plants are far more important for us.
The flowering plant species named `Swertia kashmirensis’, belongs to the genus Swertia and Gentianaceae family. The research study on the plant species was conducted by Bilal A Wani, Tajamul Islam, Anzar Ahmad Khuroo, Aijaz H Ganie and Irshad A Nawchoo at the Department of Botany, University of Kashmir.
It was last week published by an internationally acclaimed journal, “Phytotaxa”.
The species are characterized by cauline leaves and prefer moist soils. It grows along the banks of sloppy mountain brooks.
Senior Assistant Professor and Co-Author of the study, University of Kashmir Dr. Anzar Khuroo said the discovery throws light on the fact there are many such undiscovered species in the valley and the need to protect them and do more research on them.
“It is important to note Kashmir Himalayas are extremely rich in biodiversity. At the same time, we are losing many plant species even before they are discovered. In fact, most of the biodiversity hotspots fall in the developing countries where the scientific resources are grossly inadequate,” Dr. Anzar said.
He explained that it is a worrying sign as many of these unexplored plant species have a high value as they can be a rich source of food security, future ecological security, future forestry, medicinal/ and pharmaceutical needs.
“In the backdrop of this, the discovery of `Swertia kashmirensis’ is considered as an important one,” he said.
He, however, said the major threats to plant diversity include habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation, overexploitation, invasive species, pollution, and anthropogenic climate change.
“Bangus has been recently opened for tourism and huge tourist influx in recent years has led to intense habitat degradation, which in near future may endanger the existing natural populations of this newly described species,” Dr. Anzar said.