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Ashoka’s ASP Scholar publishes Photographic Field Guide to Mukteshwar Valley’s Trees and Shrubs

Soham Kacker, ASP Scholar 2023, published a field guide that introduces readers to common trees and shrubs species in the Mukteshwar Valley, aiding nature lovers and locals in understanding and appreciating the region's diverse flora

Soham Kacker (ASP 2023) is passionate about plants. As a former student at Ashoka University, he majored in Biology with an Environmental Studies minor. His undergraduate thesis, conducted under the guidance of Prof. Ghazala Shahabuddin and Prof. Shivani Krishna, focused on the factors influencing tree and shrub regeneration in mid-Himalayan oak forests, sparking a profound interest in Himalayan flora.

During his fieldwork in the Mukteshwar landscape (Uttarakhand), Soham began developing a field guide to the region’s flora. His efforts have culminated in the successful publication of this field guide titled “A Photographic Field Guide to the Trees and Shrubs of Mukteshwar“. The guide introduces readers to a selection of 88 common tree and shrub species with over 250 colour photographs and key identification features. Covering the oak and pine forests of the Mukteshwar region, ranging from 1700 m to 2200 m in elevation, the guide features commonly seen species and provides insights into their characteristic features, habitat preferences, and uses. This guide is intended to be a trusted companion for nature-lovers and local residents alike, helping them better understand this ecologically important landscape.

Currently pursuing an MSc in Biodiversity Conservation and Management at the University of Oxford, with a focus on plant ecology and conservation, Soham remains deeply committed to promoting awareness and conservation of natural habitats.

Ashoka University congratulates Soham on the publication of the university’s first-of-its kind field guide. The unique guide will not only promote nature engagement but will also contribute to forest research and restoration efforts in the Mukteshwar landscape, which is already a hub for conservation activities such as nature-based tourism and ornithological research.

The project received support from Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, The Nature Conservancy, and Ashoka University.

The field guide is now available on Amazon India: amzn.in/d/dfly5tB.

(Written by Dr. Yukti Arora, Senior Manager, Academic Communications, Research and Development Office Ashoka University)

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