|Research at UAF - Establishment of arboreta of native trees of Pakistan at Botanic Garden, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad|
Owing to environmental pollution, global warming and increased international trade plant diversity has become endangered worldwide. A modern and well established Botanic Garden is a sort of research laboratory, training and reference centre and a permanent data storehouse of all the plants of an area, especially the endangered and threatened flora of the region. Hence the importance of Botanic Gardens can be summarized as:
i) Identification: Botanic Garden, along with herbarium proves a fundamental source of identification of plants and a permanent reference centre. It serves basic need of identification for basic and applied research in botany, biology, agricultural sciences, pharmacy, genetics and biotechnology. Any research dealing with plants where plant genetic resources are to be used, involving plant breeding, pharmaceutical chemistry, agricultural sciences, aerobiology etc., depends on the correct identification of the species.
ii) Botanic Garden and herbarium as documentation centre. Types of new taxa (new species, subspecies and varieties) are properly preserved and kept here for future use. The name of each and every taxon is permanently attached with a type specimen/element. The Botanic It can accommodate specimens of a number of species from different geographical areas which provides the basis for monographic and floristic revision.
iii) Data storehouse: It may prove a data storehouse and a source of information on habitat ecology, distribution of rare and endangered species. It also gives an idea about the fast depleting biodiversity, particularly those species which remained abundant in the past and now have become endangered or very rare. It also provides new sources of DNA used by geneticists.
iv) As an educational resource: Botanic Garden acts as a source of library and laboratory for the systematic research. The herbarium staff provides significant service to the public for the identification of plants and answering a number of queries about the plants, their distribution pattern, ecology and usefulness. A rich collection of specimens provides a sound foundation for training in plant biodiversity and draw to draw the relationship of wild and cultivated plants, their affinities and correct identification. The data is therefore collected from these branches of science helps in identification but, also the better understanding of biodiversity and different environmental problems. The data generated through the project will be of great national and international importance.
As the Government is planning to explore the natural resources of the country, this project will help to identify the plant resources of the country. It is estimated that up to 100,000 plants, representing more than one third of all the plant species, are currently threatened throughout the world or face extinction in the wild. Botanic Gardens are playing a key role in protecting all our plants for the future. Establishment of Botanic Garden at Botany Department, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad will be extremely important for the conservation of primarily the endangered native flora as well as exotic flora for scientific and educational purpose.
The project has a direct relevance to the commitment of the Government towards enhancing scientific and technical capabilities in the country for economic development.
Surveys were conducted to Faisalabad, Lahore and Patoki regions in order to collect the different native plant species for their establishment in the New Botanic Garden University of Agriculture Faisalabad. More than 75 plant species, mainly of the families of palms and gymnosperms were collected and planted in the Botanic Garden.
Results and Discussion
The collected plants from different nurseries of Faisalabad, Lahore and Patokki regions were grown in new botanical garden University of Agriculture Faisalabad. Some of the rare plant species established were Bismarkia nobilis, Brahea decumbens, Brahea armata, Butia capitata, Caryota mitis, Chamaedorea cataractarum, Chamaedorea elegans, Chamaedorea seifrizii, Dypsis decaryi, and Raphis excelsa (family Palmae), and Cycas circinalis, . thoursii, Dioon edule, and D. spinolossum (family Cycadaceae).
As a inventory of rare and endangered species, many species were planted in the garden of both native and exotic origin. Among native species, Nannorrhops reitchiana and Phoenix loureirii are the endangered species in Pakistan. However, among exotic species, many species of Phoenix, Cheamedora, Cycas, Rhapis, Brahia, Dioon, Bismarckia, and Caryota are of ecological importance.