Success of traditional Chinese medicine environmental governance project celebrated in China
Friday, July 17, 2015 at 9:41
TRAFFIC in In Asia, Plants - medicinal and aromatic

Beijing, China, 17th July 2015—participants in an innovative project promoting sustainable use of wild medicinal plants in China met this week to celebrate their success and look forwards to the future as the 30-month project comes to an end.

The European Union-funded Sustainable supply chains: Engaging China’s private sector in sustainable management of medicinal plants (EGP MAPs) has helped establish sustainable supply chains for medicinal plants ingredients in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) industry and contributed towards improved rural livelihoods and environmental governance in Hunan and Zhejiang Provinces. More than 1,100 individual wild-collectors and farmers have been supported through it.

Supported by leading TCM manufactures and traders, EGP MAPs has brought together stakeholders within the industry, including companies, their suppliers (farmers and wild-collectors), conservation NGOs, industry associations and academia as well as government officials.

“This project was the first of its kind in China, helping establish the principles of sustainable wild plant sourcing by some of the leading players within the TCM industry,” said Huang Xueju, EGP Project Manager, EU Delegation in China.

A training event for wild-harvesters and collectors © Wecome Key to achieving wild plant sustainability was following the FairWild Standard’s best-practices for wild harvesting and equitable trade in plants. The Standard’s eleven principles cover social, environmental and economic aspects of sustainability, and provide a comprehensive framework for tackling the complex issues involved in sustainable wild collection.

Major project successes highlighted at the Beijing meeting included:

A project study carried out by the International Trade Centre and TRAFFIC found China’s export volume and value for selected medicinal and aromatic plant (MAP) products (both wild-collected and cultivated) amounted to over 1.3 billion kg with a reported Customs value of over US$ 5 billion in 2013. This represents around 16% of total world exports of these materials. Hundreds of Chinese MAP species are either entirely or partially wild-collected, while the study also highlighted the potential for significant growth from anywhere between 5 and 15% of total exports for organic-certified products.

“China currently has a golden opportunity to lead the world in promoting sustainable sourcing and equitable sharing of the benefits from wild plant resources,” said Yannick Kuehl, TRAFFIC’s Regional Director for East and South Asia.

A Goji berry harvester, Qinghai province © Chenyang Li / TRAFFIC As a key output the EGP MAPs project, a policy study on the TCM sector identified a total of 142 policies, laws and standards relevant to the collection, management and use of medicinal plant resources in China. These were analysed and a comparison carried out identifying potential areas for strengthening the laws and policies, in order to provide a more enabling legislative and policy environment for sustainable business practices in the TCM sector, as well as better regulation of management and use of medicinal plant resources.

“The FairWild Standard is a valuable reference for TCM management agencies to guide sustainable development work as well as an important tool for formulating TCM resource assessment plans and industry standards,” said Zhao Runhuai, Chief Technical Director of Sinopharm, the largest State-owned TCM company in China.

He also mentioned positive feedback from the government on the recommendations of the policy study, which includes improving the internal co-ordination among the authorities. The policy study is highly recommended by TCM administration bodies and the EU delegation to China and the State Administration of TCM (SATCM) has suggested it be submitted to the central government. 

Mr Dei Dexiong, Vice General Manager of Zhejiang Wecome with a Solomon's Seal plant © Wecome The participating TCM companies and NGOs also discussed the sustainability of the project. Although the EGP funded project comes to a conclusion, the conservation work on medicinal plant resources is in the ascendant.

“We can be proud of what EGP MAPs has achieved to date, and this project has laid a solid foundation such that we can look forward to a bright future for wild-plant harvesting within China’s TCM industry,” said Zhou Fei, Head of TRAFFIC’s China Office.

Information on the EGP-MAPs project in Chinese

This communication has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this communication are the sole responsibility of TRAFFIC and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

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