Entrusted with the responsibility to preserve, conserve and research flora from around the world in God’s own country, the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden is no walk in the park.
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Formerly known as the Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute, Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute, was renamed in the fond memory of visionary Prime Minister of India. It is an autonomous research and development institute established by the Government of Kerala. It functions under the umbrella of the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE), Government of Kerala.
In 1996, Saraswathy Thangavelu Extension Centre of KSCSTE – JNTBGRI housing the Bioinformatics component become functioning. During the year 2003, JNTBGRI was bought under the newly formed society, Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE).
They say every monumental achievement has had the driving force of a visionary. The saga of JNTBGRI also speaks the same story. Prof. A. Abraham, a visionary and a great Botanist, conceived the idea of establishing a Jawaharlal Nehru Botanic Garden and Research Institute to study and conserve the rare and vanishing wild plant genetic resources of the country.
KSCSTE – JNTBGRI is the only organization in India, which maintains a 300 acre conservatory garden for the wild tropical plant genetic resources of the country, besides a well integrated multidisciplinary R & D system dealing with conservation, management and sustainable utilization of tropical plant resources.
During the past 30 years, it has flourished into one of the premier R & D organization in Asia, devoted to conservation and sustainable utilization of tropical plant diversity. The institute is recognized as a ‘National Centre of Excellence in ex situ conservation and sustainable utilization of tropical plants diversity’ by the Minister of Environment and Forests, Government of India and the Centre of Science and Technology of Non-Aligned and other Developing Countries (NAM S&T Centre) JNTBGRI enjoys the membership of Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). The institute is a recognized centre of research for post graduate and doctoral research of several universities, within the country.
The Institute undertakes research in conservation biology, Biotechnology, plant taxonomy, microbiology, phytochemistry, ethno-medicine and ethno-pharmacology, which are the main areas considered to have immediate relevance to the development of the garden.
While taxonomists prepared a flora of the garden documenting the native plant wealth before mass introduction and face lift which subsequently followed, the bio-technologists mass multiplied plants of commercial importance, especially orchids for cultivation and distribution to everyone.
They also make a comprehensive survey of the economic plant wealth of Kerala, to conserve, preserve and sustainably utilize it. The institute regularly carries out botanical, horticultural and chemical research for plant improvement and utilization; and offers facilities for the improvement of ornamental plants and propagation in the larger context of the establishment of nursery and flower trade.
JNTBGRI gardens medicinal plants, ornamental plants and various introduced plants of economic or aesthetic value. In addition, it also serves as a source of supply of improved plants that are not readily available from other agencies.
They have developed a modern conservatory garden for ex-situ conservation of plants and scientific studies for sustainable utilization. They’ve also established large living collection of trees and woody lianas of over 1000 species, medicinal, Aromatic and Spice plants of around 1500 species, pre-tsunami living collections from Andaman-Nicobar Islands, Orchids, Bamboos, rare and threatened plants, aquatic plants, insectivorous plants, wild ornamentals, Jasmines, etc. for conservation, display and education. This living collection of trees, bamboos, orchids, Medicinal Aromatic and spice plants are the largest in South Asia.
Over all these years, they have developed 12 new phytomedicines and filed 15 patents. They also published 25 books, over 1,000 research papers and20 handouts, bulletins and course materials. Although they don’t permit a camera on campus, it’s worth a visit. The wide variety of flora will be you with many pleasant images.