FairWild Week June 24-28: Why Care About Wild Plants? | WWF
FairWild Week June 24-28: Why Care About Wild Plants?

Posted on 25 June 2019

FairWildWeek is all about celebrating the wild plant ingredients we take for granted every day.
Our relationship with the wild is closer to home than you might think. Connecting to the wild isn't just about visiting a rainforest in Borneo, or seeing a Snow Leopard in Nepal; a taste of the world's wilderness, even from the Danube-Carpathian Region and the Green Heart of Europe might actually be sitting in a teabag in your cupboard, or inside the health supplements in your kitchen. FairWildWeek is all about celebrating the wild plant ingredients we take for granted every day. Thousands of them are in 100,000s of products worldwide.
Europe has a long history of wild plant collection, including juniper, nettle, blueberries, yarrow, elderflower, rosehip for cold and flu, and hawthorn for a healthy heart and circulatory system. The European blueberry, found in wild, often mountainous areas contains more disease-fighting antioxidants than almost any other fruit or plant - second only to the small red bean. It is also the only naturally blue food and its antioxidant properties mean it can help improve your vision, especially night vision. Although commercial wild collection is declining in Europe as populations move to urban areas, it remains an important source of income in certain regions, especially for some communities and ethnic minorities such as the Roma. With certified collection sites in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, there are now a wide variety of FairWild ingredients available on the market.

The FairWild Standard is also proving instrumental for the implementation of existing regulatory frameworks provided by National Resource Management Systems as well as by International Conventions such as: the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
As part of WWF-CEE’s integrated New Deal for Nature and People strategy to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 while supporting local economies, several projects have included FairWild elements. We are working with wild plant collectors in the Danube-Carpathian Region to help make their wild plant collection more sustainable. During FairWild Week, we would like to highlight a few of these positive initiatives.
In Hungary, WWF-Hungary, TRAFFIC and Corvinus University of Budapest focused on implementing sustainability principles for wild plant collection based on the FairWild Standard, training materials on sustainable wild plant collection, and an online toolbox of plant-related resources. The Traditional and Wild Project worked to prevent the disappearance of historical knowledge of wild plant collection, and to help improve the livelihoods of vulnerable groups in rural parts of Central Europe. The target species in Hungary included common juniper (Juniperus communis), Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) and elderberry (Sambucus nigra).

In Bulgaria, wild-growing medicinal plants are a major renewable resource. There are about 770 species of medicinal plants. Of these, 200 are currently in use, and over 250 herbal drugs are derived from them and presently used in the medicine, cosmetics, and the food industries. The project focused on elderberry (Sambucus nigra), crab apples (Malus sylvestris), blackberry (Rubus fruticosus), silver linden/silver lime (Tilia tomentosa) and stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). Ingredients from FairWild-certified operators in Bulgaria are being distributed by Martin Bauer GmbH & Co.

At the regional level, WWF-CEE implemented the Local Economy and Nature Conservation in the Danube Region (LENA) Project (2017-2019) in Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. LENA aims to support livelihoods and business opportunities for communities with a low economic status (monthly income ranging between 200 and 500 EUR) by connecting people with nature to enhance their well-being and prosperity. The Danube Region is characterised by 70 national parks and more than 1000 Natura 2000 areas that cover a large spectrum of ecosystem services. Due to their protected status, these areas are often regarded as hampering local development, while their intrinsic economic potential is usually overlooked. However, more and more studies confirm the multiple social and economic benefits of Natura 2000 sites. Pilot business initiatives have been implemented in 11 Natura 2000 zones in the Danube-Carpathian Region. Activities address the development of tourism, sustainable transport and the creation of opportunities for sustainable income generation and natural resource management, including completing sustainable agriculture value chains (GMO-Free soy and Black Slavonian Pigs), fishing and wild plants sustainably harvested in protected area buffer zones (FairWild). Cooperation with local communities is key to preserving traditional harvesting knowledge, and support local livelihoods by encouraging businesses to use wild plant ingredients in their products.

LENA is financed by the EU's Interreg Danube Transnational Programme.
Established in 2008, the FairWild Foundation promotes the sustainable use of wild-collected ingredients, with a fair deal for all those involved throughout the supply chain. The increasing demand for wild plants – as ingredients for food, cosmetics, well-being and medicinal products – poses major ecological and social challenges. The pressure on potentially vulnerable plant species can endanger local ecosystems and the livelihoods of collectors who often belong to the poorest social groups in the countries of origin. As a response to these concerns, the FairWild Foundation is working with partners worldwide to improve the conservation, management and sustainable use of wild plants in trade, as well as the livelihoods of rural harvesters involved in collection. The FairWild Standard and certification system are the principle tools to achieve this goal. The FairWild Standard is helping to protect plant species, and the local communities and entire ecosystems that depend on them. When properly managed, responsible and ethical harvesting can benefit marginalised communities, local economies, and wider ecosystem conservation and support business sustainable development goals. We should accept nothing less than ethically and sustainably sourced wild plant ingredients! “Saving plants saves lives.”
Be part of the solution!
Consumers: https://www.fairwild.org/ifoundwild
Businesses: https://www.fairwild.org/what-we-offer
Find certified operators and products: https://www.fairwild.org/buy-fairwild
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fairwild/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/fairwild
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fairwild_foundation/?hl=en
For more information:

Kirsten Palme

Programme Officer – Medicinal Plants, Europe
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