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Friends of Conservation
101 St Martin's Lane
London, WC2N 4AZ
Tel: 020 3667 7017

Conservation Issue

The western Indian Himalayas are home to some of the world’s most valuable plants. Until recently the area was cut off from the outside world and, for generations, local healers have harvested the herbs carefully for their medicines. However, in the last decade demand in the West has encouraged local people to over-harvest these plants. Plant populations have been depleted by up to 80% and some important species are on the brink of extinction. FOC intends to support Pragya’s work to promote sustainability in the region. Pragya was set up in 1995 and, in 2000, it received the Whitley Gold Award for conservation and in 2003 received the Whitley Continuation Award.

If you would like to support this initiative to protect this threatened flora, please click here.


Bandhavgarh National Park is located at Vindhya hills in Madhya Pradesh. Consisting of a core area of around 105 sq km and a buffer area of approximately 400 sq km, the terrain varies between steep hills and valleys, grassy swamps and forest. Formerly a Maharaja’s hunting preserve, Bandhavgarh is famous for its population of Tiger, considered to be the greatest number to be found in India. 
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Pragya works in the large cold desert in the western Indian Himalayas, covering an area of about 80,000 sq. km. Some rare and extremely valuable medicinal and aromatic plants grow in these arid heights. Many of these plants have suffered depletion rates of up to 80% of their populations in the last six to ten years and a number of species (some of which are endemic to the region) are on the brink of extinction. Overharvesting for use and trade, destructive forms of harvesting and overgrazing are some of the causes leading to depletion and fragmentation of the species populations. 
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This project is a community-based initiative promoting traditional knowledge and customs alongside the commercial development of traditional herbal medicines to ensure sustainable utilisation of the medicinal and aromatic plants. Working in north-western India and also part of the Tibetan Plateau region, Pragya seek to involve the Tibetan monks, medicine practitioners and local women in the collecting, processing and benefits of the research and product development in thus improving their social and economic status. 
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