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Medicinal plants and traditional medicine play an important role in the health care system of most developing countries. The traditional health care practice is mainly dependent on medicinal plants collected from the wild. In spite of this, the medicinal plant biodiversity is being depleted due to man-made and natural calamities. Moreover, the indigenous knowledge associated with the conservation and use of medicinal plants is also disappearing at an alarming rate. The fact that medicinal plants could be used as sources of revenue for farmers, the Institute of Biodiversity Conservation (IBC) has initiated the development of a project on Conservation and Sustainable Use of Medicinal Plants (CSMPP).

Conservation of medicinal plants is an act of careful preservation and protection of natural resources or habitats of medicinal plants especially through planned management. National Medicinal Plant Boards (NMPB) is engaging in various conservation activities by developing sustainable way through central sector scheme on Conservation, Development and Sustainable Management of Medicinal Plants.

Medicinal plants are globally valuable sources of new drugs. There are over 1300 medicinal plants used in Europe, of which 90 % are harvested from wild resources; in the United States, about 118 of the top 150 prescription drugs are based on natural sources. Furthermore, up to 80 % of people in developing countries are totally dependent on herbal drugs for their primary healthcare, and over 25 % of prescribed medicines in developed countries are derived from wild plant species. With the increasing demand for herbal drugs, natural health products, and secondary metabolites of medicinal plants, the use of medicinal plants is growing rapidly throughout the world.

The collection and use of medicinal plants, although common practices in the different cultures of the world, may bring challenges for the conservation of the medicinal resource used. This is particularly true when there is a significant reduction in the population size of the exploited species, leading it to a risk of local extinction.

However, communities may differ among localities because of their socioeconomic characteristics, and some studies have shown that age, gender, and profession may influence people’s knowledge of resource use. This fact has indicated that the socioeconomic profile of human populations needs to be considered in the recovery of the perception of the local populations and in the conception of strategies aimed at the conservation of the exploited resource.

The collection and use of medicinal plants, although common practices in the different cultures of the world, may bring challenges for the conservation of the medicinal resource used. This is particularly true when there is a significant reduction in the population size of the exploited species, leading it to a risk of local extinction.

However, communities may differ among localities because of their socioeconomic characteristics, and some studies have shown that age, gender, and profession may influence people’s knowledge of resource use. This fact has indicated that the socioeconomic profile of human populations needs to be considered in the recovery of the perception of the local populations and in the conception of strategies aimed at the conservation of the exploited resource.

A highly conservative estimate states that the current loss of plant species is between 100 and 1000 times higher than the expected natural extinction rate and that the Earth is losing at least one potential major drug every 2 years. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the World Wildlife Fund, there are between 50,000 and 80,000 flowering plant species used for medicinal purposes worldwide. Among these, about 15,000 species are threatened with extinction from overharvesting and habitat destruction and 20 % of their wild resources have already been nearly exhausted with the increasing human population and plant consumption. Although this threat has been known for decades, the accelerated loss of species and habitat destruction worldwide has increased the risk of extinction of medicinal plants, especially in China, India, Kenya, Nepal, Tanzania and Uganda.

The goal of conservation is to support sustainable development by protecting and using biological resources in ways that do not diminish the world’s variety of genes andspecies or destroy important habitats and ecosystems. In general, it involves activities such as collection, propagation, characterization, evaluation, disease indexing and elimination, storage and distribution. The conservation of plant genetic resources has long been realised as an integral part of biodiversity conservation. There are two methods for the conservation of plant genetic resources, namely In-Situ & Ex-Situ conservation.

Among the strategies adopted by governments is the creation of conservation units, which often incorporate restrictive measures in order to introduce the sustainable use of resources, prohibiting the use of target species of intense extractivism in the region.

At present the methods of plant cell and tissue cultures have found many proper sites for application in the medicinal plants utilization. The achieved results and the confidence for further success drive the efforts for wider application of plant biotechnologies in more spheres concerning medicinal plants

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