A survey of plant diversity and its significance at village Ghotawade
Our villages are exceptionally good in natural resources such as plants, crops, animals, medicinal plants, soils, water, etc. Unfortunately due to heavy anthropogenic pressures these enormous resources are getting destroyed fast. Biological resources are vanishing at very rapid rate due to uncontrolled encroachments and exploitation. So to understand the current status of these resources, our college has decided to survey these resources through the participation of students and teachers. The academic interest in biodiversity and its significance is strongly motivated through interdisciplinary approach.
The survey objectives were aimed to prepare an exhaustive list of plant species and documentation of agricultural crops. The surveys for plant biodiversity assessment were conducted in and around the village Ghotawade (Mulshi) of Pune District. The village lies in the Western Ghats and situated approximately 45 Km from Pune. The general topography of the area is hilly with steep slopes to undulating land. It is marked with isolated agricultural farms and a river. The main land use pattern is single crop agriculture, settlements and reserved forest. We prepared a simple plan for plant diversity studies at village level with the help of our students. The plan includes the floristic studies based on extensive exploration of the village area; and field observations on the agricultural patterns, agricultural weeds and cultivated and introduced plant species.
During field surveys students find it difficult to identify the plant species. To overcome this issue, the students were given short training for plant identification. The field guides were provided for ease of identification of species. The teachers also helped them to identify the plant species.
The extensive field surveys (supported by literature surveys) resulted in documentation of 455 plant species distributed in 311 genera and 81 families indicating the floristic richness of village Ghotawade. The most represented plant families were Fabaceae (52 species), Asteraceae (41 species), Poaceae (40 species), Euphorbiaceae (20 species), Convolvulaceae (19 species) and Acanthaceae (18 species). Similarly, the most abundant genera were Euphorbia, Ipomoea (8 species each), Cassia, Ficus and Indigofera (7 species each), and Acacia and Alysicarpus (6 species each). The habit-form wise analysis represented a predominance of herbs (43%) and trees (18%) followed by shrubs (16%), climbers (13%) and grasses (10%).
also called 'ecological services' are the benefits that people obtain from ecosystems. The students were made aware of the ecological services that are obtained from plant resources.
During field surveys the medicinal plants were also listed. It includes Shatawari, Ashwagandha, Dhayati, Kala-kuda, Nirgudi, Gulvel, Beheda, Awala, Akkalkara, Jambhul, Maka, Bhuiringani, Aghada, Bibba, Chandan, Tulsi, Chitrak, Bhuiawali, Khajkuili, Adulsa, Anantmul, Talimkhana, Murudsheng, Kal-lawi, Sadaphuli, Bahava, Punarnawa, Kalmegh, Vekhand, Bel, Shikekai, Khair, and Gunj.
20 students under the guidance of teachers have created an excellent database. Their valuable contribution covers many aspects of village biodiversity, such as: plant diversity of land and water, wild plants used as food, medicinal plants and their uses and crop varieties. Crop and cultivated fruit species documented were 34. In all 33 medicinal plants were listed. The students were made aware of the rich plant diversity, its importance and need for its conservation through people's participation. The local people have valuable knowledge about biodiversity that should be documented and protected. Students and teachers gaining first-hand knowledge of plant diversity. Students get exposed to environmental problems faced by villagers.
This kind of activity will be continued in different villages of Mulshi Tehsil. We have planned to elaborate this activity by undertaking the surveys for animal diversity, soil and water analysis, socio-economic status of the villagers, historical status, etc. For this activity the students will be given training in advance.
Enthusiastic students of various faculties, interested teacher, laboratory and equipment for sample analysis.
The information obtained through this practice will be compiled in a book or report format; and it will be circulated the village panchayat and BDO office and may made available to villages and other interested parties; and even on college website as an open source.
Biomass carbon sequestration of college campus
The significance of urban plantations in carbon sequestration is conventional, and well renowned. Carbon sequestration refers to the natural and deliberate processes through which carbon dioxide (CO2) is either removed from the atmosphere or diverted from emission sources and stored in the ocean, terrestrial environments, and geologic formations. Through photosynthesis energy from sun is used to convert the carbon from atmospheric CO2 in plant tissues as biomass.
To quantify the amount of baseline biomass carbon pool of college campus. To estimate the potentiality of annual carbon sequestration by existing vegetation
We have estimated biomass carbon pool of college campus by considering above ground, belowground, herb biomass, litter biomass, dead wood, and soil organic carbon. We have taken under consideration the total college area. Soil samples were taken from soil profile up to 30cm depth. Walkley-Black Wet Oxidation method was applied for measuring soil organic carbon.
Increasing the biomass carbon sinks is a serious challenge in an academic institution. College green campus initiative (that increase carbon uptake) practices are enhanced though participation of NSS and 'Earn and Learn' scheme. The college has started to manage the litter and dead wood biomass carefully from a viewpoint to increase the soil carbon content. Better management of green spaces will enhance both the vegetation and soil carbon pool.
We have estimated a baseline biomass carbon pool of the college campus vegetation. Total number of trees were 432, out of which 251 were big trees (> 5 meters high), and 181 small trees (< 5-meter-high). The total amount of biomass carbon was 110.47 tons. Out of total plant species, 29 were exotic and 21 native plants. The exotic and native species sequester 25.219 tons and 13.907 tons of carbon, respectively. Total amount of above and belowground carbon sequestered was estimated to be 73.63 tons; herbaceous biomass carbon 11.34 tons, litter and deadwood 1.55, and soil organic carbon 23.95; and the sum of all was 110.47 tons. The rates of carbon in active markets are US$ 30 (Thirty dollars) per ton (Parry, et.al, 2014). Putting a conservative value of US$ 30 per ton of CO2 locked in college campus, this carbon sink of about 110.47 tons of CO2 is worth of US $ 3314.10 or Indian Rs. 2,25,673.64/-.
If the vegetation is maintained intact for 15 years, then the average carbon sequestration per year would be 322.22 t/year. It will help in mitigating the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. It will help in balancing ecosystem health by reducing the rate of ozone depletion.
The carbon cycle can be balanced by increasing the vegetation and without destruction to vegetation. Help in maintaining the ecosystem services. Long-term measurement of biomass is necessary for more accurate and precise results.
Maintenance of the green cover through monitoring the growth and health of plants.
This practice may be taken over by other academic institutions for improving the green campus initiative.
Better management of green spaces will enhance both the vegetation and soil carbon pool.