KARACHI - Experts on Sunday urged the government to encourage the conservation of plants, and said that plants boost our economy, feed, clean and recycle our atmosphere, soils and water. They stressed the need for observing 'Plant Conservation Day 2009 (May 18) in its true spirit in the country, as plants are being vanished due to the combination of various factors. Prof Dr Muhammad Iqbal Chaudhry, director International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), Karachi University (KU), said that plants were vanishing from the world due to various factors. Despite the fact that disappearance of plants will have significant negative impacts on the humans and environment, the authorities concerned are not heeding over the issue, he said. Pakistan, which is an agricultural country, has been blessed with the variety of climates. According to a study, there are about 2,000 estimated species of medicinal plants of which 400 are extensively used in traditional medicines. Due to improper care, these plants are vanishing fast. The HEJ Research Institute of Chemistry, KU is the only institution that is working for the protection and production of plants, and has established first orchid tissue culture laboratory to do so. There are three green houses having thousands of orchid plants. At the institute, 17 varieties of orchids are being reproduced through tissue culture technology and most of them are Dendrobium. The flowers are being supplied to the local market at one-tenth of the market prices; various five-star hotels in Karachi and Islamabad are also being provided with flowers by the lab, he added. Chaudhry said that there was need to promote such business at the government level, but, unfortunately, our higher-ups and economic-policy-makers were unaware of this lucrative industry. Haider Abbas, Assistant Professor at Dr AQ Khan Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering said that May 18, 2009 was a special day and considered as a milestone in the plant conservation activities around the world by celebrating 250th anniversary the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, London; Singapore Botanic Gardens, 150 years; and, Missouri Botanical Garden, 150 years. He said that plant conservation was vital for a balanced ecosystem because they were integral part of a functional and viable environment. Biotechnology provides a blue print for conserving plant diversity. Biotechnology offers a viable alternative for these endemic and endangered plants. Dr AQ Khan Institute of Biotechnology and genetic engineering is committed to play a vital role in the conservation of plant genetic resources. In this regard an In-Vitro Garden was established in 2007 because plant conservation is becoming the subject of 21st century when human population bomb has already been exploded. In the last 10,000 years, human activities have resulted in an accelerating decline in the bio-diversity on earth. Plants are becoming endangered by a combination of factors, including over collecting, un-suitable agriculture and forestry, urbanisation, pollution, degradation, fragmentation, destruction, invasive species, climate change. Around 70 per cent of the worlds assessed plants on the 2007 Red List are in jeopardy, he said. Throughout human history, approximately 7,000 different plant species have been used as food by people. Abbas said: At KIBGE, under the supervision and guidance of Director General Prof Dr Syed Irtefaq Ali, we are developing biotechnological tools for the conservation of the rare and endangered plants of Pakistan. These plants have hidden potential and little efforts of their conservation will create possibilities of new medicines for different diseases.