KOCHI: Who thought the orchids grown on the Western Ghats would be a subject of curiosity and much study? Intrigued by the significance of these flowering plants in the region, ecologist Jis Sebastian has taken it upon herself to study the flowering plants and address what determines the pattern of ‘orchid distribution in space’. This has helped her establish a connect between global warming and the distribution pattern of orchids.
For her excellence in the field of research, the young researcher was awarded the WWF Prince Bernhard Scholarship for Nature conservation 2017. She is also a recipient of the Dr C Chandrasekharan Nair Memorial Endowment for innovative research in conservation of forests 2016, KFRI.
Jis, who is a doctoral candidate at S H College, Thevara has been researching on the orchids in the Western Ghats for the past four years. As part of her work, she has travelled to several parts of India.
So, why did she choose to study on the orchids? “These plants are specialised groups and are distributed in a random manner. It is a species which is rarely seen and makes its assessment difficult for ecologists. Also, since it is area specific, it is time-consuming and the outcome is also uncertain. Moreover, orchids have mecidicinal value and is used by some tribal communities as food,” she said.
Besides researching on orchids, the ecologist has conducted workshops on ‘Conservation and Restoration of Orchids’ at Government Higher Secondary School, Vythiri in Wayanad. In order to attract people’s attention to these orchids, a work was also carried out at Paruthumpara, an ecologically sensitive area (ESA). Street plays were also organised by the Marian School. The ecologist has also spearheaded eco-friendly alternatives for menstruation at S H College, Thevara. The young researcher is trying to create a basic database for orchids and is working on her book ‘Distribution pattern of orchids’.It is about the study of orchids in different altitudes. “My family and friends have high expectations about me and by doing my research on ecology on orchids, I want to create more awareness about this area of study,” said Jis.