Since its inception in 1997, CAbC has been focusing on study and conservation of the Rare, Endemic and Threatened (RET) species of Western Ghats. The efforts in this regard started with documentation of the floristic diversity of Wayanad region. This study highlighted the biological significance of the region that provides habitat for about 25% of the Rare, Endemic and/or Threatened flowering plant species of Western Ghats. A total of 1,950 flowering plants have been documented, with 32 Red Data Species and 550 endemics of Western Ghats. Apart from these, some speciality groups like orchids, impatiens, woody climbers, medicinal tree species, oil and gum yielding plants etc. have been attempted to study in detail.
Discerning the reality that poor natural regeneration is posing severe threats to a good number of RET species in Wayanad; attention was drawn towards adopting suitable ex situ conservation measures. It led the establishment of a conservation garden with 125 orchid species, 30 fern species, 156 endemic tree species and 60 accessions of wild tuber crops and a CAbC herbarium with more than 8000 specimens of flowering plants of Wayanad.
As a follow up, the second phase was implemented in the year 2004, paying attention to the conservation of ten selected RET plant species of Wayanad by way of integrating conservation and livelihood security of the community. The species were selected giving thrust to the demand of the forest dwelling people for their food, health and livelihood. The target was achieved through the community-oriented multiplication of selected species and by adopting both in situ and ex situ conservation measures towards ensuring their subsequent availability. The third phase of the programme was initiated with the help of Sir Dorabji Tata Trust a roject has been implemented for the conservation of 80 RET plant species in this project. Eight doctoral programmes were initiated in collaboration with institutions viz. Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), Peechi, Centre for Medicinal Plant Research, Arya Vaidya Sala (CMPR, AVS), Kottakkal, Sree Narayana Mangalam (SNM) College, Maliankara and Centre for Research in Indigenous Knowledge, Science & Culture(CRIKSC), Kozhikkode. Each research fellow was entrusted with the responsibility of collection and conservation of ten target species, and to take up complete study of the species giving emphasis to their distribution, taxonomy, ecology and conservation biological aspects.