Description of ongoing projects
Experimental sowing and planting began in the late seventies and again in the spring of 1997. Doctors, along with several botanists supporting the work, now collect seeds from their immediate environments from a variety of local herbs. Cooperation with this conservation effort has been established with contacts in Himal Pradesh, Solo Khumbu, Mustang, Amdo and other areas. The Chagpori Medical Institute in Darjeeling, along with several other labs, are able to assess the quality of the herbs produced.
Following is a description of the approach to conservation and cultivation. Medicinal herbs can be produced in three ways. (1) Intensive cropping: monoculture within a relatively small area using modern agricultural inputs and intensive cultivation practices. (2) Natural regeneration: collecting and propagating herbs from large protected areas where they grow without human interference. (3) Semi-intensive production: sowing or planting medicinal herbs together with plants which normally grow with them in their natural habitat. This can be done on cleared soil and by replanting in designated cultivation sites. The third approach combines features of the first and second. Herbs are sown or planted, as in intensive cropping, whilst preserving a naturally regenerating environment.
The Tanaduk Institute follows the third approach: semi-intensive Low External Input Agriculture. Everywhere in nature, plants that grow together depend upon and reinforce one another. They are functionally interrelated to form a community. Experience gained from producing traditional medicines shows that the quality of herbs found in this type of habitat are higher than that of herbs produced in monoculture. In addition to planting herbs, project plans include investigating ways of conserving medicinal herbs (especially of rare and endangered categories) through the ex-situ conservation and monitoring of natural populations.
The following schedule, planned according to data found throughout the Himalayan region, is followed for cultivation.
Snow-sowing in May: The initial research began in 1973 and the search for seedlings suitable for planting began then. It was renewed in spring 1997 and continues to this day. The plants have different seasons for growing, flowering and seeding. The Tanaduk Institute has initiated pilot projects to establish plots in numerous areas and to begin sowing the collected seeds in the spring.
Replanting Wild Seedlings in June: In June, seedlings from wild plants are collected for planting at the experimental cultivation plots, and for transporting to other Tanaduk sites. The sowing success rate is analyzed and compared to that of the wild seedlings. Wild herbs are observed and other plants are identified that grow in the immediate vicinity. A report is made on all medicinal herbs included in the research plan. Roots and early seeds are collected for planting both in the United States and at other cultivation sites. Various botanical and horticultural activities continue throughout the summer season.
Replanting Roots and Sowing Wild Seeds in September: In the fall, roots and wild seeds are replanted at various cultivation sites both in the Himalayas and in the West.
Funding is needed to continue to develop cultivation sites, build greenhouses and purchase equipment.
The plan is to construct greenhouses with computer-driven cultivation equipment so more accurate botanical strength analysis can be undertaken. The goal is to organize cultivation projects so botanicals can be shared among all sites. The cultivation sites are described below.
The Orcas Island Site: Nine hundred acres on this tiny island located in Washington, The United States of America, are being used to cultivate seeds and seedlings imported from the Himalayas.
The Ganden Shartse Monastery: This nonprofit institute for the preservation of Buddhist wisdom and Himalayan culture is located in Mongod, India, and works in cooperation with 20 monasteries. Many of these monasteries are helping to cultivate these rare and endangered botanicals.
The Nauti site: Nauti is a village in the Chamoli district of Uttaranchal, India. Land is available for cultivation some 250 kilometers away from Dehra Dun at 2,000 meters altitude in the Chamoli district of Uttaranchal state. Garhwal University at Srinagar is close to the proposed cultivation site at Chamoli. This is where researchers plan to reap intellectual support and foster collaboration with the Botany Department.
The Kalimpong site: Kalimpong is ideally situated with the best all round climate in India, if not in the world. It is a gardener's paradise and the main businesses there are schools and nurseries. It is from here that varieties of flowers and orchids are exported the world over. It is central and easily traversed from Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan, and Doars where further cultivation work can be taken up.
The Taktse Site: This site in India is owned by the Tsuklakhang Trust, which presently trains and educates 200 monks. The site has over 100 acres of land and work is already in progress with the cultivation of some medicinal plants. Its overall plan is to introduce medicinal plants on a commercial basis so that the proceeds will go towards the maintenance of the students studying at the Tsuklakhang Institute. The student monks will be involved with the cultivation of these medicinal plants.
A Request for funds:
The Tanaduk Botanical Research Institute has an open request for funds to build greenhouses and to update existing facilities on all four sites. There is also the need for equipment and the means by which those facilities can be updated with solar and computer-driven cultivation equipment. If funds allowed, The Tanaduk Institute would also like to accomplish other goals as stated above.
May All Beings Be Happy
May All Beings Be Free
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