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close this bookMedicinal Plants: Rescuing a Global Heritage (WB, 1997, 80 p.)
close this folder3. India
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentProduction and trade
View the documentNotable Indian medicinal plants
View the documentGovernment initiatives
View the documentLinks to modern medicine
View the documentLinks to agriculture
View the documentLinks to forestry
View the documentLinks to veterinary medicine
View the documentProtecting medicinal-plant biodiversity

Links to forestry

Forest timber products contribute about 35 percent of the total forest revenue of the country and exported timber is estimated to be in excess of $100 million annually. Although it is increasingly recognized that non-wood forest products (including medicinal plants) constitute a large, often overwhelming, source of forest revenues from State forests, these resources continue to be undervalued, and not given due consideration in the development of forest management plans. Currently surveys do not generally consider non-timber species, particularly herbaceous species which constitute the majority of Indian medicinal plants. Since the State forests contain a large percentage of the medicinal-plant wealth, given their good condition and degree of protection, their value should not be underestimated. The Forest Departments in India have an important role to play, they are organized to manage large forest areas, and given the requisite reorientation of their management objectives they are probably the agencies best equipped to help conserve and manage the forest medicinal-plant resources of the country.

Much of the non-timber forest produce is removed by local people free or at nominal concession rates. The gross value of medicinal-plant products can only be estimated. Apart from their monetary value, they are of enormous economic and cultural value to the country in general, and to communities residing in or near to forests. Medicinal plants growing in forest ecosystems meet many of the healthcare needs and requirements of the Indian populace. For example, of the 2000 drug items recorded in the Indian Materia Medica, 1800 are of plant origin. About 80 percent of the raw materials required in the manufacture of drugs are forest-based. At present, these are collected in an unorganized manner and in many cases through private traders. Eight State Governments have established Forest Corporations to deal with the procurement, sale and distribution of various forest products. These corporations should, as part of their functions, organize their activities to procure medicinal plants from within their own areas and arrange sales inside and outside their own State. The corporations would be well served by having representatives of ISM, NGOs and local communities on their board of directors.