shimlaHaving made great efforts to bring together the varied, rare, endangered, threatened and economically important native plant species of the northwestern and western Himalayan region in one place, the forest department has drawn up plans to raise awareness of the arboretum here as a major tourist attraction for nature lovers.
At a meeting of senior forestry officials, Senior Wildlife Conservator Rajiv Kumar stressed that while the arboretum would play an important role in protecting biodiversity, regulated tourism activities needed to be encouraged.
Funded by the forestry department, the Western Himalayan Temperate Arboretum (WHTA) project, at Porters Hill, Shimla is being implemented by the Himalayan Forestry Research Institute (HFRI), Shimla.
HFRI scientist in charge of establishing WHTA, Dr. Vaneet Jishtu, who has been involved in the design of the arboretum from the beginning, told the meeting that most of the country’s botanical gardens and arboretums were in tropical and subtropical regions. , but in northwestern India, especially in the temperate Himachal region, there were hardly any.
Appreciating the novel initiative of the forestry department, said Dr. Jishtu, some innovative thinking was needed to venture out and bring all the native trees of the region together in one place.
More than 120 species of trees have been collected from various parts of the western Himalayan region and have been planted in the arboretum in different sections and blocks.
Sections have been established for gymnosperm plant species, acer, rosaceae, walnut, rhododendron, oak, etc. and a nursery for the propagation of germplasm of lesser known tree species (LKTS) has also been established.
The arboretum is supported by a Cloud Chamber, a Shadow House, a Bambusetum, an exclusive Salix section and a conservatory of medicinal plants.
There is also a dedicated nursery to display the rare Ashtavarga Group of medicinal plants collected from all over Himachal Pradesh.
The arboretum records regular visits from scientists, teachers, foresters, farmers, students and even tourists. Most of them are from other parts of the state and country who generally remain devoid of closer contact with nature, natural resources and the Himalayan environment.
The arboretum has become an important tool in educating visitors to understand the nature of the Himalayas without having to go to remote areas, and making them aware of the importance of conserving the important plant resources of the northwestern temperate Himalayas.
The western Himalayan mountain ecosystem is an environmental hotspot in need of conservation, and a germplasm establishment is a need of the hour.
Botanical gardens and arboretums dedicate their resources to the study and conservation of plants, as well as to making the diversity of native plant species known to the public.
Chaired by Mr. Rajiv Kumar (Pr. Chief Conservator of Forests (WL)-cum-Chief Wildlife Warden, Himachal Pradesh), the WHTA Advisory Committee meeting was held on 2North Dakota September was attended by senior officials from the HP State Forestry Department, Mr. Anil Kumar Thakur, APCCF and Mr. K. Thirumal, CCF.
Other participants included Dr Lal Singh, Director, Himalayan Research Group (HRG), Dr Dhiraj S Rawat, HoD, Department of Botany, HP University, Shimla, Dr Rakesh Kumar Singh, Scientist Incharge, GB Pant Institute, Mohal, Kullu, Dr. Narinder Negi, Scientist, National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), and Mr. Hem Thakur, Director, Hail Himalaya, Shimla. Himalayan Forest Research was represented by Dr Sandeep Sharma, Director and Dr Vaneet Jishtu.