Getting Closer with Conservations Medical Plants in West Papua

One area that has potential for plant resources is West Papua. This location has higher plant species, including medicinal plants. Despite the availability and accessibility of state-of-the-art modern medicine, communities in the province rely on traditional healthcare as an essential component of primary health care. Read for more detailed information below.

Medicinal Plants and Herbs in Papua

The diversity of plants in Papua has significant benefits for local communities. They rely on medicinal plants to support their health. Despite the abundance of modern medicine, households in Papua use traditional health services. Ethnics in Papua have knowledge about traditional ingredients from plant sources as conventional health.

Due to the large number of medicinal plants used in Papua, some data indicate that medicinal plants are under threat of conservation status. Not all plant species for traditional medicine are threatened with destruction and sustainability. Therefore, when the conservation status of medicinal plants is assessed as a step, it means they are taken from the forest or not cultivated.

Papuan plant patterns and trends, there are approximately 25,000 plant species in Papua with a possible number of 2,929 medicinal plants. From these data, medicinal plants do not have a generative part. Some species are not identified to the class level. Several plant species in West Papua are also harvested without being cultivated. It has caused a future threat status for the use of plants.

Furthermore, there is data that records 69 species of conservation concern or are included in the category that is still safe but needs special attention. From the data that appears, there are several species classifications, namely Near Threatened (NT) species, Least Concern (LC) species, and Data Deficient (DD) species. The species is threatened without a high risk of extinction.

Fifty percent or more of the taxa of species threatened or under conservation concern are recorded as harvested outside the yard. Therefore, species that are registered to be gathered not from home gardens are more massively exploited. Species harvested from forests and the continual wilderness may lead to an increase in the future Red List status of some at-risk species.

Endemism Medical Plants in Papua

Overall, the level of endemism in Papua is high, at an estimated 54% of the 25,000 species. However, there are no endemic species based on the flora in the list of medicinal plant species. However, there are some species whose distribution is limited in this province. Sonneratia griffithii Kurz (Sonneratia alba) has a broad and comprehensive distribution area in the West Papua province.

A number of species used for traditional medicine come from 135 families, with the most significant number being Fabaceae (Leguminosae). The following most prominent families are Asteraceae (Composite), Euphorbiaceae, and Lamiaceae (3.8%). Fifteen families with ten or more medicinal plant species constitute the community’s total number of significantly needed species.

The families with the highest proportion of Threatened and Near Threatened medicinal plant species included Meliaceae, Dipterocarpaceae, Thymelaeaceae, and Fabaceae. In addition, there are also four families represented by one species that is also threatened with extinction, namely Araucariaceae, Cycadaceae, Lythraceae, and Myristicaceae.

One of the four families, Cycadaceae, is also monotypic at the family level in Papua, represented by one genus and four species. Meanwhile, the family Araucariaceae is represented by two genera with 1–2 species. The two families are taxa that have significant conservation value for the sustainability of the existence of medicinal plants in West Papua.

Effective Medicinal Plant Conservation Strategy in Papua

The Heritage of Traditional Medicinal Plants from Papua Island - West Papua  Story

The conservation strategy to preserve the medicinal plants from Papua is employing ex-situ and in situ conservation. Ex-situ conservation methods build therapeutic plant collection facilities, such as medicinal plant gardens, with the management of the Regional Government Botanical Gardens or UPT under the relevant agencies. It needs ex situ facilities and in situ concepts.

This method is closely related to the suitability of the climate and habitat of plant species in the ex-situ area. As a result, in the long term, cannot maintain the existence of these species. Thus, the garden can serve as a source of germplasm and seeds for the indigenous people. It is essential for the community to cultivate medicinal plants and use them economically.

In addition, a more in-depth study of medicinal plants is needed scientifically with a bioprospector study. This method is adequate to support the formation of a market or the need for medicinal raw materials from people who practice cultivation. Thus, the conservation strategy can be further optimized at a later stage as the essential effort in West Papua.

Overall, there are many ways that can be applied to develop medicinal plants. Some plants are exploited continuously without cultivation. So, there are medicinal plant species that are threatened with extinction. Thus, it is a more effective way to provide crops in the years to come with continued conservation efforts. Then, the medical plants will always be available in the future generation.