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Book on rhododendrons released

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Jan 7 - Discovery of Rhododendron Forest - Where Highest Rhododendron Grows, a pictorial volume on the rhododendron-growing forests in the Eastern Himalayas in Arunachal Pradesh, authored by Lovita Morang, was formally released at a function at the NEDFi House here today.

State Governor PB Acharya and Dr AA Mao, Regional Director of Botanical Survey of India released the book.

The book deals exhaustively on the wide varieties of rhododendrons distributed along the Eastern Himalayas, a biodiversity hotspot. Of the 125 varieties of rhododendrons found in the country, 113 are found in Arunachal Pradesh. Rhododendrons, incidentally, are a climate-indicative plant species, and are regarded as among the best indicators of global warming and climate change.

In his address, Governor Acharya said that while the North East has been blessed with a biodiversity unique to the region, not much study and research has gone into the assessment of the invaluable natural wealth.

�This abundant natural wealth can also be put to sustainable use for developing the North East. Rhododendron, for instance, is a multi-million dollar industry in the West, but we are ignorant about its potential here,� he said.

Acharya, however, cautioned against any indiscriminate exploitation of nature�s bounty, saying that development, in order to be sustainable, must be in harmony with the natural environment.

The Governor also regretted that the original and indigenous identities of the country are fast eroding due to overemphasis on English and blind aping of the West. �English is definitely important in today�s world, but that does not mean we should sacrifice our identity and heritage. We have so many beautiful languages and cultures, but these are depleting fast,� he said.

The Governor also called for making mother tongues mandatory as a language in all primary schools.

Advocating a shift in the education policy, Acharya said that the thrust areas should be skill development, respect for one�s own identity and sensitisation to the natural environment. �This has to be put at the core of our education policy for empowering the people and making India a developed nation,� he said.

Dr AA Mao, in his address, said that Arunachal Pradesh, as also the other states of the North East were a veritable treasure-trove of biodiversity, but �not much was made out of this nature�s bounty.�

�Plants like rhododendron which dominate the Eastern Himalayan landscape with their stunning diversity, have wide use. These can be used for medicinal purposes and as processed food, besides as ingredients in bio-pesticides. These can also be a major engine for the growth of eco-tourism,� he said, adding that Sikkim is already doing that in terms of eco-tourism.

Dr Mao said that rhododendrons are among the best indicators of the natural environment and climatic changes.

�It is definitely the best indicator of climatic aberrations in the Eastern Himalayas. In certain species, some changes in flowering pattern are already emerging,� he said.

The author, Lovita Morang, in her address, gave an account of the labour that had gone into the making of the volume. �Many unique aspects of the North East�s biodiversity await exploration and research,� she added.

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