The soil is most important component to support numerous microbes, fungi and bacteria which live in symbiotic relationships with plants. Soil pH, cropping pattern, standing plants on the soil , and ecological successions of a given area will determine suitability of the habitat. The Himalayas are fragile ecosystems and most vulnerable to climatic changes. It is very important to identify and quantify the biodiversity of a region before land use change from forest to agriculture or housing, recreational parks, reserve forests, tiger reserves or water bodies are affected by ongoing changes. Millions of rupees are invested on developments but recently concepts of preserving and restoring eco-developments in the selected areas is gaining ground and experts are needed for doing this work.
Alas, there are diminishing number of repositories for the onsite knowledge as one has to depend on floras which were prepared mostly by Britishers in good olden days and in the glare of biotechnology and molecular biology the missing links are those who can identify a plant or organism in field and suggest what to plant in a particular area and maintain it.
Its time some attention was given to field botany and botanists who can work and identify in the field and travel on horse back across Himalayas to make a flora like "Duthies flora of Upper Gangetic plains " or Hookers flora of India did in the last century. Leave aside the Botanical Survey of India, field botany is no more in "fashion" and papers on field botany will get "very poor impact factor journals" while mol biology rules the roast but how will they identify the plants they are working on ? or there is no need to do it all molecules are alike.
Let's hope it comes back again before the remaining botanists and field botanists become extinct .
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