Published 29 July 2017

FairWild in the spotlight at Shenzhen International Botanical Congress 2017

Shen Zhen, China, 23 to 29th July, 2017–the 19th International Botanical Congress (IBC), known as the Olympics of botany, was attended by TRAFFIC for the first time. The IBC is an academic conference for botanical scientists and organizations to showcase a diverse variety of exhibitions concerning plant conservation.

This year’s IBC called for a reduction of activities which adversely affect natural biodiversity and human living conditions, and encouraged collaboration between plant sciences and society to build a greener, more sustainable Earth. The congress served as a platform for scientists to share their latest findings and research, and attracted over 7,000 participating delegates from 109 countries and regions. Together with WWF, TRAFFIC exhibited best practice cases on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) projects in China and beyond. 

The IBC’s Keynote Lecture by Peter Wyse Jackson, the President of the Missouri Botanical Garden, commended TRAFFIC’s work concerning the sustainable use of MAPs through the framework of the FairWild Standard.

The FairWild Foundation was joined by other like-minded organizations in spreading news, ideas and collaboration regarding sustainability for plants

In recognition of the importance of China as both a source and consumer country for wild plants, TRAFFIC has worked to promote the introduction of FairWild principles within relevant regions and through national policy. As a framework to guide the fair and sustainable use of wild-collected ingredients throughout the supply chain, the Standard was first introduced to pilot sites in Zhejiang Province through the EU-China Environmental Governance project, implemented between 2013-2015. In addition to pilots on the ground, this initiative was successful in widely introducing sustainable sourcing concepts to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) industry.

TRAFFIC has also supported the introduction of FairWild as a certification framework. In 2016, TRAFFIC’s China office facilitated the signature of an MoU between China Standard Conformity Assessment Co. Ltd. (CSCA) and the FairWild Foundation to promote FairWild certification in China. 

After months of preparation, the registration was accepted by the Certification and Accreditation Administration of China (CNCA), thus making the FairWild Standard eligible as a certifiable standard in the country. The registration will allow the Chinese certification body to audit and certify wild collected products against the Standard, subject to formal accreditation by the FairWild Foundation.  

In the IBC’s exhibition, TRAFFIC was proud to introduce a new project financed through the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), which aims to conserve biological diversity through applying the FairWild Standard for wild-sourced plant products harvested by local people in the Guangxi Autonomous Region. This initiative will further support the introduction of FairWild as a certification framework, in co-operation with project partner CSCA. 

Building on the outcomes of a previous EU-China Biodiversity (ECBP) project, implemented between 2007 – 2011, TRAFFIC also continues to work together with WWF China to extend pilot sites for the sustainable collection of Schisandra spp. 

With the support of Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund (KNCF), the project aims to encourage broader industry adoption of sustainable sourcing practices, and support local communities in their sustainable harvesting efforts. 

The two pilot areas in Sichuan Province and Northeast China are respectively linked to Giant Panda and Amur Tiger habitats, demonstrating the potential for wild plant harvesting to support species conservation in line with the Standard’s Second Principle: Preventing Negative Environmental Impacts. Schisandra ingredients are widely used in TCM and a wide range of other products, giving the species high potential as a future FairWild certification pilot.

About FairWild

The increasing demand for wild plants—as ingredients for food, cosmetics, well-being and medicinal products—poses major ecological and social challenges. The pressure on potentially vulnerable plant species can endanger local ecosystems and the livelihoods of collectors, who often belong to the poorest social groups in the countries of origin.

As a response to these concerns, 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 organization’s Secretariat under a partnership agreement.