Botanical Survey of India

India has rich flora and Fauna. In India, different types of vegetation are found like tropical, temperate, alpine, and desert vegetation. India has also four Biological Hotspot which shows the presence of endemic plant varieties.

Botanical Survey of India (BSI) is an apex research organization of our country which is engaged in survey, study, utilization, and conservation of plant wealth of the country. It is under the Ministry of Environment, forest, and climate change. It’s Headquarter is in Kolkata and it has regional branches in various parts of the country i.e. Dehradun, Coimbatore, Shillong, Pune, Allahabad, Jodhpur, Port Blair, Gangtok, and New Itanagar.

These stations are working towards the search for new varieties of plants. Nearly 300 new plants (Genera and species) have so far been discovered and describes and other 500 new plants are found. The organization’s mandate is to collect, explore, identify, and documenting the rich flora resources of erstwhile British India. It involved in the survey, research, conservation of plant and endangered species of India, including collecting and maintaining gene Bank of vulnerable, patented, and endangered plant species.


History of Botanical Survey of India:

From early historical times, India’s vegetables and flowers have attracted the people of the whole world. That’s why various world power has established world trade of vegetables with India. These are Egypt, Arabs, Dutch, French, and finally Britishers which started trade with India.

In the 18th century, there was more interest in searching for the new varieties of plants by Britishers and mainly by religious missionaries and East India company. In 1787 East India Company set up a garden at sibpur, Calcutta. Later in 1890, it was renamed officially as the Botanical Survey of India. Its first director was Sir George King.

The country is divided into four botanical regions; east, west, north, and south under the charge of the regional director. In the early period, the department conducted surveys for many regions also outside of India which were part of India before independence. Later on other responsibilities like protection and research also given to BSI.


Reorganization after independence:

After independence, the work and location of the Botanical Survey of India were reorganized. The head quarter was set up in Kolkata and other regional centers were – Dehradun, Coimbatore, Poona, Shillong. A central botanical laboratory was also set up in Lucknow. In 1963, Sibpur and Howrah stations were transferred to the Botanical Survey of India. Two more circles Andaman and Nicobar and Jodhpur added respectively in 1972. Other in Itanagar established in 1977 while Sikkim-Himalaya were included in 1979.


Objectives of Botanical Survey of India:

Various goals and objectives of the Botanical Survey of India are;

  • Survey of plant resources of the country at national, regional, and district levels. Along with maintenance and protection of those resources.
  • Development of national and regional herbarium.
  • Development of Botanical gardens, Research gardens, and experimental gardens to study, introduce, and conservation of flora.
  • Development of central laboratory for research and development among plants.
  • Assessment of threat to plants and try to find out the solution.
  • It also helps regional and local administration about the conservation of endangered and vulnerable plant species.
  • It also assesses the uses of the new plants in rural and tribal areas.


Achievements of Botanical Survey of India:

Botanical surveys play a vital role in the protection, conservation, research, and new uses of plants. Some of them are:

Ex Situ Conservation: Botanical Survey of India is actively engaged in ex-situ conservation through various botanical gardens located at the regional locations. They are actively engaged in the collection, introduction, multiplication, and maintenance of bamboo, legumes, wild edible plants, insectivores plants, and other economically important plants. Mass multiplication of some rare and important plants through tissue culture has been successfully carried out by the Botanical Survey of India.

Floristic and taxonomic studies: taxonomic studies so far conducted by Survey for preparation of National/state/District flora. It resulted in the discovery of nearly 1700 new texa.

Exploration of plant resources.

Environmental Impact assessment: Botanical survey also helps in conducting an environmental impact assessment in relation to a development project. It was made mandatory by the government of India to include the botanical survey of India in conducting an environmental impact assessment of development projects.

National Database was created by the botanical survey of India.

Invention of new Endangered Plant species:  Botanical survey of India invented nearly 1500 species of plant which are Bryophytes, lichens, Fungi that has under threat of extinction. Survey compiled databook of 1182 species, out of which 708 are already published in the red book of India.

International convention participation: Botanical Survey of India is a nodal institute of the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and climate change to participate in the various international convention and put India’s view in that. The recent UNEP conference in Gandhinagar also shows the role of the Botanical Survey of India.

Capacity Building in Plant Taxonomy: The survey organizes regular programs for training in various colleges, scholars, and also internationally about different plants and species.

Environmental Education and Awareness: Botanical Survey of India with its more than 1000 museums, regional center, botanical park create general awareness among students and the general public about the role of plants in promoting Human life and maintaining a healthy environment.

Protected areas: Botanical survey of India also help to protect species in the national parks, Biosphere reserves, mainly in Andaman and Nicobar, the Gulf of Mannar, and Nilgiri. It creates awareness among people about the importance of these endemic species.

Fragile ecosystem: The botanical survey of  India studies more than 25 fragile ecosystems, like the cold desert of trans-Himalaya, ran of Kutch, Chillika lake, Mahanadi Delta, Coastal ecosystem, etc have also been completed and others are under investigation.

Geobotanical Studies:  Botanical Survey of India also conducts various Geobotanical and Bio-geochemical studies at various locations like the Singhbhum copper belt, Khetri copper belt in Rajasthan with the cooperation of the Geological Survey of India.

Any other miscellaneous studies and work as Given by the Government of India.


Publications by Botanical Survey of India:

Apart from publishing Flora of India, it also publishes states Flora, protected region Flora and red data book of Indian plants. Botanical Survey of India is also known for its various annual Publications some of them are:

  • Plant Discoveries, 2019
  • Nelumbo, Biannual journal by the botanical survey of India
  • Quarter general devoted to study of Floristic, taxonomy, vegetation, conservation of plant resource and threatened pants of India.


This article is written by;

Mr. Sachin

Selected as Assistant Commandant (UPSC CAPF 2019)

Also appeared for Civil Services Interview

Email: [email protected]