The serene premises of the Malabar Botanical Garden (MBG) here is playing host to a silent revolution in the field of taxonomy. MBG has rolled out a unique plan to train biologists in taxonomy in a phased manner, for, according to them, taxonomists are on the verge of extinction in the country.
As the first step, a national workshop sponsored by the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) on ‘Plant taxonomy: Conservation and propagation methodology of primitive vascular plants of South India’ began on October 26. The message from NBA chairman Balakrishna Pisupati underlines the significance of the project.
“Taxonomy is losing its place in the country’s academic and research priorities. This unfortunate trend will certainly affect the very basis of our ability to do applied science, biotechnology and molecular science in the coming years. The current training is not only relevant and timely but an absolute necessity when the country has less than a dozen experts to identify and work on this group,” he said.
Says R Prakashkumar, director of MBG: “Initially, the plan was to provide training to at least 100 biologists of the country in four phases. After that, around 25 candidates will be encouraged to do separate projects on the subject from their respective regions and MBG will coordinate the whole project. The training will not only fill the void of trained taxonomists but also infuse the biologists with great interest and aptitude in taxonomy.”
Science and Technology Department principal secretary and executive vice-president of the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment Prof V N Rajasekhara Pillai inaugurated the 10-day long camp, which will conclude on November 4. Taxonomy is the science of naming, describing and classifying plants, animals and micro-organisms of the world using various observations.