Himalayan Plants for People: Sustainable Trade for
Biodiversity Development

Protecting Himalayan Plants and People

In the Himalayas, where clouds meet the mountaintops, alpine forests support medicinal and aromatic plants that are vital for sustaining local livelihoods, health and well-being. 
For rural communities in Nepal, Himalayan plants are more than just flora; they are vital for traditional medicine and provide crucial income through commercial trade in areas with limited livelihood options.

Over 300,000 Nepali households commercially harvest and trade in wild plants.  

However, these precious resources are under threat from overharvesting and unsustainable trade. 

We are supporting sustainable and legal trade of Himalayan plants, ensuring a plentiful harvest for nature and the people who rely on it. 

About 80%

of people in rural Nepal rely on plants for their livelihoods


harvesters to be trained in sustainable management

Around 85%

of Nepal's medicinal and aromatic plants are wild-harvested 


non-timber forest products are sourced in the Himalayas

Unearthing the issue

As demand for medicinal plants grows in India and China, the delicate balance between Himalayan ecosystems and local community livelihoods is at risk.  
Species such as Jatamansi, Himalayan Fritillary, and Kutki are being overexploited due to a lack of harvesting regulations. 
This, along with limited access to global markets and illegal exports, undermines the income potential of local communities. 
With Jatamansi harvesting alone supporting 15,000 Nepali people and contributing, on average, 25% to their yearly income, addressing this issue is crucial. 
Our project aims to nurture a culture of sustainable plant management, ensuring both nature and people flourish.

A Himalayan harvester at a harvesting site © ANSAB


What we're doing to help

Empowering harvesters

In partnership with ANSAB, we're empowering community forest user groups and harvesters to sustainably manage their plant resources. 
Decisions about harvesting should be made with a thorough understanding of the local environment and community practices.
In this project, at least 5,000 wild-plant harvesters will receive training in how to manage resources and trade fairly, using trusted standards like FairWild
40% of the people being helped by this project are women. Teaching sustainable methods doesn’t just protect plants; it also promotes gender equality, ensuring fair wages for everyone. 
Meet Ramila Bohara, a Himalayan harvester
Together, we're encouraging change to ensure Himalayan plants remain a source of prosperity and health for future generations. 

A community forest user group discussing how to sustainably manage plant resources in their region © ANSAB


Building Stronger supply chains

We're dedicated to making sure plants are sourced responsibly and sold sustainably, all the way from harvest to market. 

Without a reliable system to trace products, markets can become flooded with fake or low-quality items.  
That's why we're setting up a traceability system to give buyers confidence and ensure transparency, all while benefiting local communities. 

Additionally, we help wild–plant harvesters connect with buyers in international markets and promote sustainable practices through fair trade agreements with companies in Nepal. 

Yellow Himalayan Fritillary © Wim Rubers / iNaturalist


Sustainability in trade dynamics

Studying the trade dynamics of Himalayan plants helps to shape policies and trade agreements rooted in sustainability. 

Recent data highlights the growing demand for non-timber forest products in Traditional Chinese Medicine. This has been particularly apparent during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Armed with this insight, we're forging pathways for sustainable trade relationships between Nepal and China. 
In March 2024, we presented our research at the International Conference on Revitalising Community Forestry in Kathmandu, Nepal. We explored sustainable management and trade of Himalayan plants, collaborating with experts to offer valuable insights for community forestry projects engaged in global trade. 

Himalayan women harvesting Jatamansi © ANSAB


This project is kindly funded by the UK Government through the Darwin Initiative.