Wild for a cure report highlights improved harvesting of wild medicines | WWF

Wild for a cure report highlights improved harvesting of wild medicines

Posted on
15 September 2010
Berlin, Germany: Worldwide application of a new standard for sustainable harvesting of wild medicinal, aromatic, dye and food plants and trees is charting new ways to protect the species and their habitats and benefit the communities that depend on them, according to a new report from world wildlife trade monitoring network, TRAFFIC.

In Karnatka, India, it is now possible to collect the resin of the White Palle tree used in traditional Indian medicine and incense without removing the bark and killing the trees that provide it. In Cambodia, a new co-operative has boosted returns to medicinal plant harvesting communities through better harvesting, drying and marketing.

In Brazil, a women’s co-operative in Amazonia State and a major natural cosmetics company are aiming to co-operate on the marketing of sustainably harvested products. In Lesotho and South Africa, a harvesting and management strategy for Kalwerbossie, whose tubers are used to treat digestive disorders, will ensure sustainable harvest of the plant, thus providing long term benefits to communities.

Guidelines a success from Bosnia to Brazil

Wild for a cure: ground-truthing a standard for sustainable management of wild plants in the field details projects ranging from South America to Southern Africa and South-East Asia where new methods were devised to protect key natural resources from the wild while improving the livelihoods and benefits for local people through application of guidelines on sustainable wild collection.

“With around 15,000 of the estimated 50,000–70,000 plant species used for medicine, cosmetics or dietary supplements threatened, the need for developing practical guidelines to ensure supplies are sustainable has never been more urgent,” said Anastasiya Timoshyna, TRAFFIC’s Global Medicinal Plants Programme Leader and co-author of the report.

The project demonstrated sufficient flexibility in the guidelines to allow them to be adapted to meet local conditions, including a variety of governance and land tenure systems in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Cambodia, India, Lesotho, Nepal, and South Africa.

The report notes the importance of ensuring all local stakeholders—from collectors to local organizations, resource management authorities, and businesses—are involved in partnership from the outset, and that clear and realistic market openings should be identified for harvested products and with ways devised to give “added value” to products and a fair share of benefits to the owners of traditional knowledge.

Adequate resources should be allocated for training of local project workers in wild plants’ resource assessment, harvest monitoring, collection and processing techniques and most importantly for protection of their traditional knowledge and benefit-sharing.

“The BMZ-funded ‘Saving Plants that Save Lives and Livelihoods’ project has taken an important step in bridging the gap between words and action to manage wild plants for the future of humankind,” said Dirk Niebel, Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

“We are glad to demonstrate just ahead to the forthcoming Convention on Biological Diversity that by supporting TRAFFIC, we were able to contribute to the conservation of key natural plant resources from the wild, while improving the livelihoods of and benefits of local people.”

The International Standard for Sustainable Collection of Wild Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (ISSC-MAP), evaluated in this study has now been combined with an existing FairWild Foundation standard aimed at ensuring trade in medicinal and aromatic plants is conducted fairly. The new FairWild Standard version 2.0 for the sustainable management and trade in wild-collected natural ingredients came into effect on 8th September
“Germany’s continued commitment to helping guarantee the sustainable use of medicinal plant resources, particularly in countries that depend on them the most, is a model example for integration of conservation and development aid policies.” said Dr Carlos Drews, Director of WWF’s Global Species Programme.

“The newly developed FairWild guidelines are an invaluable tool to support sustainable harvesting and management regimes, a worldwide challenge facing the conservation community” says Jane Smart, Director, IUCN Biodiversity Conservation Group.

Further information:
Richard Thomas, Global Communications Co-ordinator, TRAFFIC, Richard.thomas@traffic.org +44 1223 279068.

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