Posted on 26 June 2020
The response to COVID-19 underscores the need for long-term conservation and sustainable use of plant species needed for healthcare and well-being.
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
(June 22-26), an annual online event to raise awareness about the importance of sustainable and equitable trade in wild plant ingredients, we would like to highlight a few of these positive initiatives in Central and Eastern Europe.
In Hungary, WWF-Hungary
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 traditional 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
, 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
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 supported livelihood and business opportunities for communities with a low economic status (200-500 EUR monthly income) by connecting people with nature to enhance their well-being and prosperity. Pilot business initiatives included sustainably harvested wild plants in protected area buffer zones
If managed well, sustainable wild-harvesting and trade in plant ingredients could provide multiple benefits to wild-harvesters and supply chains, the holistic management for other species and ecosystems, and contribute to the biodiversity conservation goals such as those discussed in the preparation of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. The response to COVID-19 underscores the need for long-term conservation and sustainable use of plant species needed for healthcare and well-being.
A combination of full traceability, compliance with existing regulations (for example for species listed in the CITES appendices), increasing the value to producers, and credible certification schemes are important elements of creating conditions for an all-encompassing “win-win” situation. TRAFFIC
’s new The Invisible Trade: Wild Plants and You in the Times of COVID-19 and the Essential Journey Towards Sustainability report identifies priority actions and recommendations
to consumers, businesses, governments, as well as conservation and academic stakeholders.
“FairWild Week is a celebration of wild plants, the FairWild approach, and the tangible benefits that sustainable use brings to impoverished harvesting communities, to businesses responding to the rising consumer demand for sustainably sourced products and for conservation of the wild plants themselves. We hope you will join the FairWild week partners on social media, helping to shed light on this invisible but essential trade, and supporting the calls for action to businesses, governments and consumers
,” said Timoshyna.
During the global lockdown, our innate need to commune with nature and the outside world has never been more apparent—which is why FairWild Week 2020, the annual celebration of the essential role wild plants play in our everyday lives, is more important and relevant than ever! FairWildWeek is an annual reminder that the wild isn’t just limited to your local park or far flung landscapes; the wild is all around you!