Dr A. A. Mao
DIRECTOR OF BOTANICAL SURVEY OF INDIA
(GOVERNMENT OF INDIA)
Botanical Survey of India (BSI), the apex taxonomic research organization of the country which is under the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Government of India was established on 13thFebruary 1890 under the direction of Sir George King. The organization’s mandate was to explore, collect, identify and document the rich plant resources of the erstwhile British India.
During the colonial period, all the botanical research, collection and experimentation of Botanical Survey of India was concentrated in the Indian Botanical Garden erstwhile known as Royal Botanical Garden, Sibpur, Howrah. However, after Independence, Botanical Survey of India was reorganized in 1954, under the leadership of Dr. E.K. Janaki Ammal. Over the years, the mandate of the organization has been broaden to biosystematics research, floristic studies, documentation, databasing of National Botanical collection, digitization of herbarium specimens, development of molecular taxonomy laboratory, advisory services and capacity building training programmes etc. Presently, Botanical Survey of India is spread in 11 Regional Centers with 4 units at Head Quarter, Kolkata, viz. Industrial Section Indian Museum (ISIM), Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden (AJCBIBG), Howrah - the oldest garden (founded in 1787), Central Botanical Laboratory (CBL) and Central National Herbarium (CNH) and Botanic Garden of Indian Republic, Noida (founded in 2002). With the rapid development worldwide in molecular taxonomy, BSI has also established recently molecular taxonomy laboratories at Shillong and Pune. This organization as a National Repository of plant resources, maintain more than four million accessioned herbarium specimens (including non-flowering plants) of which 18,988 Type Specimens.
Floristic surveys of many of the Indian state and Union territories have been completed and the rest are in progress. Floristic survey of 68 protected areas, 26 sacred groves, 01 Ramsar site, 12 fragile ecosystem and 23 Tiger Reserves have been completed. About four million plant specimens of different groups are lodged in different herbaria of the BSI. Since the inception of Botanical Survey of India, scientists of BSI have discovered one new family, 43 new genera and more than 1666 new species and infraspecific taxa including many botanically interested taxa. Population study of about 900 RET taxa of the family Orchidaceae and Sapotaceae have been completed in Eastern Himalayas.
Towards fulfilling the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation target on ex-situ conservation, the department has 12 botanical gardens spread in different biogeographical zones of the country. The gardens holds more than 150 thousands live plant collections including many important commercial potential plant groups such as Zingibers, Rattans, Bamboos, and Orchids. A large number of medicinal and aromatic plants have also been introduced in botanic gardens particularly in Port Blair, Yercaud and Shillong.
The department has also developed a digital platform ‘Indian Plant Diversity Information System (IPDIS)’ and also initiated the process of web launching of all BSI publications (books, records, periodicals, newsletters, reports etc.), archival correspondences (Wallich, Roxburgh, Hooker etc.), rare books (even not available in any of the Biodiversity library portal) and herbarium specimens. Under this scheme, digital back up of physical specimens (both general and Type specimens) is in progress. Development of e-Flora of India and Plant Checklist database, digitization of all BSI publications, launching of online portal of BSI official journal NELUMBO have been completed. Till date, BSI has published 10 volumes of Flora of India, 29 volumes of Fascicles, 29 volumes of State Flora for 9 states, 34 volumes of District Flora for 26 District and 140 numbers of Miscellaneous publication. BSI also publishes 3 periodicals viz.NELUMBO, Vanaspati Vani and Parijata regularly.