Since its inception in 1979, High Altitude Plant Physiology Research Centre (HAPPRC) has been consistently undertaking fundamental and applied research on mountain plants with major emphasis on high altitude plants. The major Thrust Areas of the research are:
- Population biology, genetic variability and productivity of alpine plants.
- Seed biology, macro and micropropagation and nursery technology of temperate and sub-alpine tree species.
- Biophysical and biochemical adaptation in mountain plants.
- Environmental physiology of nitrogen fixing mountain plant species.
- Responses of plants to climate change.
- Cultivation of medicinal plants in hill villages.
Majority of the high altitude plants the Centre has worked/is working on are highly valued medicinal plants that are facing varying degree of threat owing to their ruthless exploitation from the natural habitats. The long term objective of the work on these plants is biodiversity conservation devising methods for their cultivation.
Most of the work being undertaken at the Centre is of direct relevance to the people of the region specially the farmers and therefore transfer of technology through training and demonstration is an important activity of the Centre. Centre organizes different programmes from time to time for welfare of community, society and students and has imparted training to government, non-government and private organizations and farmers in domesticating wild plant species. These programmes are mainly based on sustainable utilization and conservation of natural resources.
For strengthening and promotion of medicinal and aromatic plant species (MAPs) on a regular basis, the Centre has developed courses on medicinal plants; training modules to train the farmers/ interested growers in medicinal plant cultivation and supply quality planting material to them for initiating cultivation for their livelihood.
One of the major accomplishments of the Centre is development of agro-technology of highly valued endangered high altitude medicinal plant species namely, Aconitum balfourii, A. heterophyllum, Angelica glauca, Carum carvi, Nardostachys jatamansi, Picrorhiza kurrooa, Podophyllum hexandrum, Rheum emodi, R. moorcroftianum, Saussurea costus. The centre has also developed and standardized in vitro propagation protocol of some medicinal and aromatic plants, e.g. Rudraksha, Chirayita, Tagar, etc. In addition, work at the Centre on Cinnamomum tamala and Valeriana wallichii has facilitated promotion of these species for large scale cultivation in the region.
The Centre has developed a strong Academia-Society interface through awareness and motivation programmes, imparting training to different stakeholders and establishment of medicinal plants cultivation models in farmers’ fields. Development of a model village (Ghesh in district Chamoli) for cultivation of medicinal plants particularly Kutki (Picrorhiza kurrooa) is well known now. The Centre has been serving as Resource Centre for farming of high altitude medicinal plants and is represented in various bodies working for promotion of cultivation of the medicinally important high altitude plants.