The biodiversity wealth of Sikkim has always fascinated many biologists across the world. Sikkim, which is botanically the richest, as so much of biodiversity is not found anywhere in the world in an area of 7096 square Kms, having five climatic zones between the elevationsâ€”285 metres and 8586 metres. As per latest statistics, 46 per cent of the total geographical area is under forest cover. The unique Himalayan ecosystem of the state hosts over 26 per cent of the countryâ€™s flowering plants,
150 species of mammals, 552 species of birds, 690 species of butterflies, 424 types of medicinal plants and over 500 types of orchids. Coming to water resources, the state is blessed to have 104 rivers and rivulets and more than 200 lakes. Sikkim State Council of Science and Technology, under the Department of Science and Technology and Climate Change, Government of Sikkim has brought out a special publication to highlight the richness of the flora and fauna of the state. The book Sikkim Biodiversityâ€”Significance and Sustainability has been divided into five key sections: Plant Biodiversity, Animal Biodiversity, Indigenous Knowledge System & IPR, Climate, Nature & Sustainable Livelihood and Threats to Biodiversity from landslides.
While edible wild plants & horticultural crops and plants having value from Ayurvedic health care point of view ensure the ball rolling, valuable and deep insight has been provided about new and interesting plants of Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve and threatened flowering plants of Tendong Reserve forest. Also there are useful inputs about Calamus erectus, Roxburgh, a least known palm and species diversity of eastern Himalaya. The Chromatographic techniques used for knowing highly potent species, diversity of NTFP, application of Tissue Culture in rhododendron, and description, analysis and prevention of some diseases affecting orchids and tomatoes next find mention. The section on animal biodiversity has extremely useful contributions about traditional livelihood based on sheep grazing in the Kanchenjunga national park and rearing of Bon pal a Sheep in low altitude under intensive system. In the same section, the trend and conservation exigencies of Ichthyo- faunal diversities have been described on the one hand and the rapid impact on the riverine fish diversity has been highlighted on the other. The section three has remarkable papers on dye extraction from common weeds and folk medicinal plants. It also attempts to show a future perspective for intellectual property rights for some of the highly valued state products and handicraft items.
Climate, Nature and Sustainable Livelihood has been dealt with adequately in section four. Protected areas of Sikkim, feed and fodder resources have been highlighted, emerging concern of impact of climate change on human health has been analysed, utility of organic farming has been explained and latest technologies for value addition to organic produce have been described. In addition, viable inputs for identification of suitable area for Mandarin orange by using remote sensing and GIS techniques have been given. The section ends with a write up on need to have mutual coexistence of the man and the animal for the sake of conservation of biodiversity.
By Nilabh Krishna