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Monday
Jun252018

New report highlights global trade in wild plant ingredients

Aloe Ferox, used in cosmetics and health products, often harvested from the wild

Cambridge, UK, 25th June 2018—a new TRAFFIC study has drawn attention to the wild plant ingredients used in everyday products and the need for their traceable, sustainable and ethical sourcing and trade.

 Download the full report Wild at HomeWild at Home: An overview of the harvest and trade in wild plant ingredients, released to coincide with the beginning of FairWild Week 2018, demonstrates how sustainable wild plant harvesting can contribute to wider wildlife conservation goals and why global industry must adapt.[1]

People are utterly reliant on plants for their survival, yet few appreciate that many of the consumer products in common use—ranging from herbal remedies, food, and drink to cosmetics, health supplements, and even furniture—derive from wild harvested plants.

The report highlights a dozen wild plant products consumers and business should look out for in products they use, including liquorice, frankincense, gum arabic, juniper, pygeum, goldenseal, and shea butter.

Of the roughly 30,000 plant species with documented medicinal or aromatic uses, approximately 3,000 are found in international trade, an estimated 60–90% of them harvested from the wild—often with little consideration given to ensure the sustainability of supplies.

“Millions of people rely on wild plant collection both for their healthcare and for their livelihoods—from rural rosehip harvesters in Serbia to baobab fruit collectors in Zimbabwe, and the wide benefits of this harvesting are reaped by consumers across the world,” said Anastasiya Timoshyna from TRAFFIC, a co-author of the report.

“But the industry utilising wild plant ingredients and consumers are paying far too little attention to ensuring plants are being traded responsibly.”

In 2015, the global reported trade for medicinal plants alone was valued at over US$3 billion, a threefold growth since 1999, although the figure is likely to be a significant underestimate, as the customs code used for the analysis does not include all relevant plants. The top exporters were China, India, Canada, Germany and USA, while the top importers were Hong Kong SAR, USA, Germany, Japan and China.

An IUCN Red ListTM analysis by the IUCN Medicinal Plant Specialist Group in 2018 found that only 7% of the known medicinal and aromatic plant species have been assessed against extinction threat criteria—and one in five of them was found to be threatened with extinction.

Overharvest and resource mismanagement are two major contributors to species declines. Growing and changing demand for wild plant ingredients often means that traditional sustainable harvesting practices are being replaced by more intensive and destructive alternatives. Examples of this include the use of heavy machinery in the harvesting of wild licorice root Glycyrrhiza spp., or the destructive collection of American Ginseng Panax quinquefolius.

If managed well, however, sustainable wild-harvesting and trade in plant ingredients could provide holistic management for other species and ecosystems, as well as multiple benefits to wild-harvesters and supply chains overall.

A combination of full traceability, compliance with existing regulations (for example for species listed in the CITES appendices [2]), increasing the value to producers, and credible certification schemes are important elements of creating conditions for an all-encompassing “win-win” situation.

Throughout FairWild Week 2018, TRAFFIC and partners will be sharing conservation success stories, demonstrating how implementation of the FairWild Standard ensures sustainable harvesting and trade in wild plants with social, economic and conservation benefits.[3]

“It’s in everyone’s interests to ensure that their use of wild plants is responsible in terms of ecological and social sustainability, so we all need to learn about the origin of the products we are using,” said Timoshyna.

“That’s why FairWild week was first conceived—the time has come for consumers to recognise the value of the wild plants in the products they buy,” says Timoshyna.

The week also aims to promote uptake of the FairWild Standard by industry supply chains. Suppliers following the FairWild Standard adhere to strict rules regarding the sustainability of harvesting operations and ensuring the harvesters work in safe conditions and receive a fair and equitable payment for their produce. Products meeting the requirements are FairWild certified, and products containing them can bear the FairWild logo.

“Companies often market their products as being ‘naturally sourced’ or ‘wild’ with little interpretation of what that actually entails: it’s time for consumer pressure to ensure it really means they have been sustainably and ethically traded—if in doubt, look for the FairWild logo on the packaging or ask why it doesn’t appear,” said Timoshyna.

 

 

NOTES
 

[1] About FairWild Week
FairWild Week is an annual online initiative which celebrates the power of wild plants in our daily lives. We’ll be telling success stories of how FairWild is helping protect wildlife, ecosystems and harvester communities and explaining how you as a consumer or business can be part of the solution to the threats facing wild plants. This year, FairWild Week runs from 25th June to 1st July.

Follow the action at fairwild.org/fairwild-week or @FairWild #FairWildWeek

For editors: media and content package.

[2] Trade in CITES-listed plants
The trade in some of the plant ingredients used widely in everyday products is regulated under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). The top traded wild-collected medicinal and aromatic plant species over the past decade include candelilla Euphorbia antisyphilitica (used in cosmetics), pygeum Prunus africana (an important ingredient of herbal remedies), cosmetic Aloe ferox, and agarwood (derived from Aquilaria and Gyrinops species) used in fragrances and incenses, as well as various orchids, particularly Dendrobium spp. harvested for use in traditional Asian medicine. 

[3] About FairWild
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 wild collection. TRAFFIC has supported the development of the FairWild Standard, and now hosts the organisation’s Secretariat.

[4] The Wild Dozen – key plants to look out for in your products

This list provides examples of species important in trade, wild-harvested, susceptible to harvesting pressure (e.g. overcollected, vulnerable to unsustainable trade), and/or that are in supply chains problematic for social inequality of trading practices. Explore the species to look out for here: WILD DOZEN

 

Contact
Richard Thomas
TRAFFIC Global Communications Co-ordinator, richard.thomas@traffic.org

Anastasiya Timonshyna
TRAFFIC Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Programme Leader, anastasiya.timoshyna@traffic.org

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