Published 4 May 2012

Wild flora, sustainable use and livelihoods: progress on the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation

Montreal, Canada, 4th May 2012—Plant conservation came under the spotlight during a preparatory meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) currently underway in Canada. 

Dr Peter Wyse Jackson, President of Missouri Botanical Garden and Chair of the GPPC addresses a side event. © A Timoshyna / TRAFFIC

In particular, discussions focused on developments with the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC), whose over-arching aim is to halt the continuing loss of plant diversity. As the Strategy’s webpage notes: Without plants, there is no life.

Generally delegates to the 16th meeting of the Susbsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical  and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-16), who included a wide range of government representatives, many from Parties to the Convention, as well as non-governmental organizations, were pleased with progress with developing the GSPC, particularly the development of the online toolkit for its implementation. 

TRAFFIC’s Medicinal Plant Programme Lead, Anastasiya Timoshyna, highlighted how the FairWild Standard’s principles could act as a tool to assist Parties, other governments and the private sector to implement particular targets within the GSPC, through relevant plans, programmes and policies, such as National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs).

According to Timoshyna “Conservation of wild plants has never been more urgent, and the FairWild Standard is the right tool to help with implementation of the Strategy that will help secure the future for this invaluable resource.” 

A paper jointly submitted to the meeting by TRAFFIC and WWF also recommended the use of the FairWild Standard to verify sustainable and ethical sourcing of plants from the wild. 

Dicscussion surrounding the GSPC were drawn to a close on Thursday, with a number of recommendations now going forward for possible adoption at the Conference of the Parties taking place in October this year in India. 

They included a call for translation of the GSPC’s toolkit into the official languages of the United Nations, reiterated the call to identify national focal points for the GSPC and invited the engagement with partner organizations, including members of the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation (GPPC), to support the development and implementation of GSPC. Also welcomed was the reference to a draft Resolution by the Plants Committee of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), relating to co-operation between CITES and GSPC, which is being submitted for consideration at the next CITES Conference of the Parties. 

The recommendations also emphasized the importance of disaggregating information relevant to plant conservation when preparing Global Biodiversity Outlook-4, the forthcoming edition of the CBD’s flagship publication. 

On Tuesday, TRAFFIC spoke about capacity-building for sustainable use of wild plants through use of the FairWild Standard principles at a side event organized by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) and the GPPC. TRAFFIC is a member of the GPPC, and co-chair of the Working Group on Objective III of the GSPC: Plant diversity is used in a sustainable and equitable manner. 

Other presentations at the event included those by IUCN, Royal Botanical Garden of Edinburgh, UNEP-WCMC, French National Museum of Natural History, and BGCI. 

A side event the following day discussed issues relating to the sustainable use of wild flora and livelihoods. During the event, TRAFFIC once again put forward the FairWild Standard as the best-practice tool to provide a global framework verifying ecological, social and economic sustainability of wild collected ingredients and product. 

According to Sara Oldfield, Secretary General of BGCI “It is hugely important to work together to tackle issues of sustainable use of plant resources and scale up implementation of the Fairwild Standard – a leading tool in the GSPC toolkit.” 

During preparations ahead of the current meeting, in March, TRAFFIC co-ordinated a session on developing the GSPC at as part of a European Experts consultation held on the Isle of Vilm, Germany, and convened by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation. The outputs of the Vilm meeting (PDF) were made available to participants this week, and many of the output’s recommendations, as well as those in the WWF-TRAFFIC joint position paper, were included in the revised recommendations to go before the CBD meeting in India.  

WWF Germany is particularly thanked for making TRAFFIC’s attendance at the preparatory CBD meeting (SBSTTA-16) possible.