P. B. Siddhartha College bid for plant conservation with QR cod

At a time when Quick Response (QR) codes have become common for digital payments across India, a college in Andhra Pradesh is showing how the technology can benefit students and help in the conservation of plants.

The initiative of P. B. Siddhartha College of Arts and Sciences here is not only helping the students get information about plants at their fingertips but is also expected to contribute in plant conservation.

Students or anyone can use their smart phones to scan the QR code hung in the trees on the campus to access all the information about the plant ranging from its botanical name to its medicinal value.

Any app generating QR code and available for free on the online stores can be used to scan the QR code and access the information. The user will see what has been incorporated and for detailed information can refer to books or do the Google search.

Those scanning QR code will not only know the scientific name of the plant, but also its status by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which releases the status of all species every year.

"These days people have awareness about conservation of plants, but they don't know which plant has to be conserved and what is its name. The IUCN status shows which are the endangered species. We hope that educated people will help conserve such species by growing them in their gardens," Srinivas Reddy, head of Botany Department at the college told press.

The department has developed herbal garden on the college campus with 60 varieties of medicinal plants like Tulsi, mustard, aloe vera and spearmint.

It has also grown 20 other varieties. These include 'Gyrocarpus Americanus', whose wood is used to make the world-famous Kondapalli toys. The scarcity of the wood, locally known as 'Tella Poniki' has affected the toy manufacturing in Kondapalli near Vijayawada.

The Botany Department worked for a month to collect all database about trees in the college campus and assigned QR codes to them. They catalogued the trees according to their species and incorporated vital information.

This has also made the learning easy and interesting for the students. "Today students don't have time and energy to go to the library and read books. They read about the plants in text books along with the monograph and line diagram, but they can't identify the plants. If they see the live plant, they can easily understand and remember," said Srinivas Reddy.

According to Reddy, the exercise started as an experiment evoked huge response. Many students, including non-biology students, faculty members, morning walkers and other visitors are scanning QR codes to get the information.

Enthused by the huge response, the management of this college is looking to extend the initiative beyond the campus. "We have submitted a proposal to assign QR codes to trees outside the campus. If the municipal authorities accept the proposal, we will do it, he said.

Reddy believes that such an exercise will create more awareness among people and they will be curious to know about different species and grow the endangered ones to help in their conservation.

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