India’s first Grass Conservatory was launched by the research wing of the Uttarakhand forest department on November 14, 2021, in Ranikhet of Almora district. The Chief Conservator of Forests (Research) and Head, Research Wing of Uttarakhand forest department Sanjiv Chaturvedi stated the economic value of grasses as the most important of all flowering plants because of their soil-forming functions and nutritious grains.
India’s first Grass Conservatory – Significance
India’s first Grass Conservatory project aims at creating awareness about the importance of grass species, promoting conservation, and facilitating further research in grass species as research has proved that grasslands are more effective compared to the forest land for the purpose of carbon sequestration.
Chaturvedi further stated that grasses play a key role in Carbon Sequestration during which grasses store most of the absorbed carbon underground. He explained that during a forest fire, carbon stored in trees information cells of biomass gets released into the atmosphere. Whereas, during a fire in grasslands, the grass species store the carbon underground. Research suggests that more than a third of the world’s land-based carbon is stored in the grasslands, Chaturvedi added.
Officers involved in India’s first Grass Conservatory project highlighted that grasslands in the country are facing several types of threats. The shrinking of grasslands is endangering the entire ecosystem of birds, mammals, and insects that are dependent on them.
India’s first Grass Conservatory – Key Features
The first Grass Conservatory project in India has been established in an area of 2 acres. The project has been funded under the CAMPA scheme by the Central Government. The research wing of the Uttarakhand forest department took 3 years to develop the conservation area of the Grass Conservatory project.
The conservation area houses around 90 different grass species while displaying important ecological, scientific, medicinal, and cultural information related to grass species ‘All Flesh is Grass’.
There are seven different sections of grasses in the conservation area namely medicinal, aromatic, fodder, ornamental, agricultural grasses, religious importance, and miscellaneous.
Tiger grass or Broom grass (scientific name Thysanoleanamaxima) is an important fodder grass. It is found in ravines, steep hills, and sandy banks of rivers upto an altitude of 2,000 m in Uttarakhand. It is a perennial species that is used as green fodder throughout the year. It is beneficial in the rehabilitation of degraded land and preventing soil erosion on steep hillsides.
Elephant or Napier grass (Pennisetumpurpureum) is an excellent pasture fodder. It is a good contour hedgerow. It is used for firebreaks, windbreaks in paper pulps production and charcoal, biogas, and bio-oil.