Exploring Biodiversity for Mankind : The Strategy


Abdul Latiff Mohamad


Traditional & Complementary Medicine Exhibition 2007 (TCME 2007), Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia




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Malaysia is endowed with one of the richest biodiversity in the world. Efforts to conserve and utilize the rich flora have been carried out through the establishment of Protected Areas Systems and the participation of both the government and private enterprises. To-day a total of 1.39 million ha (about 7.6%) of the forests of all types have been set aside for conservation. It is hoped that these protected areas have captured most of the species of plants. Similarly, efforts in ex situ conservation have also been undertaken. Malaysia has yet to define priorities for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity based on ecosystem, species and genetic diversity. Measures for sustainable use in traditional agriculture, for instance, are in place but those in biodiversity prospecting is yet to be established. What is needed are frameworks and strategies for biodiversity conservation, sustainable use and also some legal measures for protecting plant species, especially those for enhancing biotechnology and development of alternative medicines. Malaysia is blessed with some valuable resources of medicinal and aromatic plants. In the last decade or so scientific progress have been made in exploitation of the plants for pharmaceutical, essential oil market and complementary medicine have led to a greatly renewed interest in local herbs. The industry is beginning to move from a traditional preparation to a small-scale production which is based entirely on the indigenous knowledge to the medium- and large-scale production for local consumption and export markets. In the past the cultivation and harvesting of these plants from the wild have provided substantial income to the locals and at the same time impoverished the wild populations of herbs. However, as the markets for these products widen there is a potential to develop them into an export market economy.There is an urgent need to address the question of both the sustainable utilisation conservation of medicinal herbs. The future of medicinal herbs and their industry is discussed.