World Environment Day - helping re-connect people with the benefits of nature
World Environment Day, 5th June–this year’s UN World Environment Day is themed ‘Connecting people to nature’, aiming to inspire the public to appreciate the beauty and value of nature by getting them outdoors and encouraging them to ‘re-connect’ with their local environment.
Today also invites the public to consider how intimately we depend on our natural resources, ecosystems and nature as a means of fostering positive attitudes towards sustainable living.
The environment is our lifeline
Whether for food, medicine, cosmetics, construction, employment, recreation or spiritual nourishment, billions of us around the world rely on natural resources every day.
When viewed in terms of wildlife trade, whose global value is estimated to be up to USD$323 billion annually, this fact is all the more apparent.
Wildlife trade supports hundreds of millions of livelihoods across the world. 57 million are engaged by primary work in fisheries and aquaculture, timber trade contributes to the livelihoods of up to 1.6 billion people and it is estimated that approximately 60,000 of the 390,000 known species of plants may be used medicinally.
A project re-connecting people to nature
In Viet Nam, home to approximately 4,000 medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs), many of which are in significant decline, TRAFFIC is working to implement effective resource management practices and sustainability frameworks within the forestry and wild-harvesting sectors.
Unsustainable wild-harvesting activities coupled with uncontrolled or illegal trade is a serious threat to conservation, and often offers little financial reward to local harvesters themselves.
The FairWild Standard, a wild-harvesting sustainability framework and certification scheme, managed by the FairWild Foundation, and implemented by TRAFFIC, among other partners, provides a framework that helps protect wild-harvested plants from over-exploitation and ensures that local harvesters receive fair benefits.
Under FairWild standard principles, the project, ‘Enhancing management and benefit flows in Vietnam’s wild medicinal products’, supported under the UK government’s Darwin Initiative, has already helped reconnect local communities and government representatives with the benefits of conserving Viet Nam’s MAPs.
By developing resource management plans and encouraging regulatory trade changes, the project–currently in its third year–has already seen improvements in the sustainable management of wild plant species in Bac Kan province.
Ms. Nong Thi Hue, a harvester from the Nam Xuan Lac Co-operative in Bac Kan said: “Before I was trained by the project on sustainable harvesting I just collected what I wanted, uprooting plants without even recognizing that this harms future generations. The project training has improved my skills and knowledge on cutting, drying and sustainable harvesting.”
In addition to the conservation benefits from applying such techniques, the FairWild framework helps harvesters better access market stakeholders, facilitating meetings between co-operative groups of wild collectors and national producers. One such meeting resulted in the signing of a contract between the Nam Xuan Lac cooperative and DK Pharma/DK Natura for trade in Jiaogulan.
Since we joined and worked with the co-operative, our income from wild collection has doubled
Mr. Nong Van Huong, Head of the cooperative
This project is just one example that continues to demonstrate the varied benefits to conservation, communities and biodiversity that arise from re-connecting people to nature.
Similar projects are taken place in mainland China and elsewhere, enhancing the benefits of sustainable trade and conservation to local communities.
Visit FairWild.org for more information on the how sustainable wild-harvesting is protecting wild plants and supporting local communities. Look out for the FairWild logo for a guarantee ingredients have been sustainably and ethically sourced.
Do you want to certify your product through FairWild? Get in touch here.
About the Darwin Initiative
The Darwin Initiative is a UK government programme with a focus on biodiversity projects.