Published 14 July 2015

Botanic gardens encouraged to promote wild plant conservation

Paris, France, July 2015—Plant experts met last week in Paris to assess international efforts to implement the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) and how effective it was proving in achieving its targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). 

International trade in Pheasant’s Eye Adonis vernalis is regulated under CITES: the species was recently assessed at the European regional level as Least Concern © xulescu_g / Creative Commons

The Fifth meeting of the Liaison Group on the GSPC took place as part of the Eurogard Congress, which brought together botanic gardens representatives from across Europe. 

Dr Braulio de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the CBD spoke of the need to make progress towards achieving the GSPC Targets by 2020, putting in place as many mechanisms and processes as possible. He said he was optimistic about having the solutions to hand and how it was important to engage more key countries. The importance of ensuring the alignment of GSPC Targets implementation with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the post 2015 development agenda was also emphasized. 

TRAFFIC’s Anastasiya Timoshyna spoke on behalf of TRAFFIC and the IUCN/SSC Medicinal Plants Specialist Group, about the role of the FairWild Standard in securing the conservation of wild medicinal plants, and how its successful implementation was having a positive impact on wild plant species and harvesters. 

She spoke of the need to scale up such activities, particularly in view of the recent European Red List Assessment of Medicinal Plants, which found one third of species to have declining populations, with over-harvesting, habitat loss and agriculture the main threats. Europe is a key consumer of wild plants resources. 

“Botanic gardens have huge research, outreach and educational capacities and expertise and have the potential to play a significant role in developing communications campaigns around sustainable sourcing of wild plants,” said Timoshyna. 

“Such institutions also have invaluable roles in supporting species monitoring and identification and in analysis of wild plant ingredients in consumer products.”

Botanic gardens could actively promote "citizen science" approaches to contribute towards conservation efforts.

resolution was later passed at Eurogard, calling upon botanic gardens to "Engage with and promote where possible the work of IUCN, CITES, TRAFFIC and others in ensuring legal, sustainable and appropriate use of wild plants including through the promotion of the FairWild Standard."

Participants also discussed innovative ways of encouraging CBD Parties to increase their reporting against GSPC targets and for them to enhance the role of the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation (GPPC) in supporting the GSPC implementation. 

Target 12 of the GSPC—All wild harvested plant-based products sourced sustainably—will require input from the private sector, government and non-governmental sources. The Target uses as an indicator uptake of the FairWild Standard on sustainable use of wild plant resources. TRAFFIC proposed focusing on trade in a number of flagship wild plant species and measuring progress towards equitable and sustainable trade in them as a means of assessing whether the Target was being achieved. 

CBD Parties and the GPPC were also encouraged to link efforts to achieve GSPC Targets through bigger initiatives, such as public procurement issues and the overall agenda of sustainable production and consumption.