To safeguard, conserve and cultivate lichens, the forest department of the Indian state of Uttarakhand has developed India’s first lichen park, spread over nearly two acres, in Munsiyari in Pithoragarh district.
The park’s development started in the year 2019. In order to bolster conservation efforts, the department also aims to make locals aware of the significance of lichens- a Jurassic era plant.
Surrounded by snowcapped peaks, Munsyari was chosen as the site for developing the garden as it is considered a hotspot for lichens also known locally as ”Jhula” or ”Patthar Ke Phool”, Chief Conservator of Forest (research wing) Sanjiv Chaturvedi said.
The garden boasts of more than 80 species of lichen, used as a key ingredient in the famous Hyderabadi biryani to create its distinctive flavour and in indigenous perfumes for its aromatic properties, he said.
In wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the garden has been opened in a limited way for the public.
It may be mentioned here that the world is home to more than 20,000 known species of lichens of which over 2,700 are found in India. The Indian hill-state of Uttarakhand alone records the presence of over 600 lichen species in its territory, followed by the states of Himachal Pradesh (503 species), and Jammu and Kashmir (386 species).
In Uttarakhand, lichens are found in Chamoli, Champawat, Pithoragarh, Nainital, Dehradun region. Some lichen species found in the state include Usnea lognissima, Lecanora subfuseescens, Polysporina dubia, Parmotrema pertatum, Arthonia impolitella, Acarospora fusca, Sarcogyne privigna, Acarospora oxytona and so on.