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Wild collected marula fruit collected near the Limpopo River in South Africa

Wild at Home Using Markets for Wild Ingredients to Support Conservation and Rural Livelihoods

Wild collected marula fruit collected near the Limpopo River in South Africa

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shining a light on the hidden harvest ...

Thousands of consumer goods around the world contain wild plant ingredients. You likely already have a selection sitting in your kitchen or bathroom cupboards in the form of creams, oils, herbal medicines, teas, furniture, makeup items, drinks and food products.

These ingredients are usually harvested from highly biodiverse ecosystems, often by rural communities for whom trade is a critical source of income. However, thousands of harvested species are at risk, mainly from a combination of overharvest and habitat loss, with over 20% of species estimated to be threatened with extinction. This threatens wider ecosystems, also putting at risk the harvesting communities, businesses, and consumers who rely on wild plant ingredients. 

60-90%

of plant species in global trade are thought to be wild harvested

Caitlin Schindler, Project Officer – Wild at Home

The vast majority of us are already using wild plant ingredients, we just don't know it. This project works to connect industry and consumers to the wild in their everyday products, to ultimately ensure that sustainability and good working conditions exist throughout supply chains

Caitlin Schindler, Project Officer – Wild at Home

Exploring issues and opportunities of the wild harvest

Many wild plants are harvested and traded with little consideration for sustainability or whether local harvesters are fairly paid. 

This is to a large extent due to a lack of visibility and accountability: the ingredients are difficult to trace back to source along complex supply chains, current sources of information are not easy to find or digest, and those sources available don’t provide clear insights into conservation and social risks and opportunities. At the same time, businesses feel little pressure from buyers or customers about the sustainability of wild-sourced ingredients, as public understanding of what ‘wild’ ingredients are and what risks are associated with them is very low. 

To address a lack of voluntary systems available to support and verify wild harvest management systems as meeting sustainability and ethical trade criteria, TRAFFIC, the FairWild Foundation, and partners developed the FairWild Standard, which is now recognised as best practice for wild plant sourcing (for example, by the Convention on Biological Diversity).

Although growing year-on-year, trade in FairWild ingredients represents a tiny fraction of the world’s trade. Many businesses using wild-sourced ingredients are not ready to make the leap towards third-party verified systems. How do we motivate and support those businesses to start their wild plant responsible sourcing journey?

The Wild at Home project

aims to bring these important wild plant ingredients to light and support the uptake of good sourcing practices in wild-harvested supply chains. 

The project will initially focus on the ‘Wild Dozen’, 12 species important in trade that act as flagships of the opportunities and challenges of wild-sourcing, with the longer-term aim of changing industry practices and consumer perceptions. These come from a range of different geographies and conservation statuses, and are found in different types of consumer products from tea to essential oils, demonstrating the huge range of wild plant ingredients.

Meet the Wild Dozen: our focus species

Plant name

Listed in ingredients as

FrankincenseFrankincense; Olibanum; Boswellia spp.
Shea nut Shea butter; Butyrospermum parkii
Gum Arabic Additive E414; Acacia spp.
Candelilla Candelilla wax; additive E902
Baobab Baobab; Adansonia digitata
Liquorice Liquorice;  Glycyrrhiza spp.;  Glycyrrhiza glabra
PygeumPygeum; Prunus africana; African cherry
Jatamansi Jatamansi; spikenard; Nardostachys jatamansi
Goldenseal Goldenseal; Hydrastis canadensis
Argan oilArgan oil; Argania spinosa; Moroccan oil
Brazil nut Brazil nut; Bertholletia excelsa
Juniper Juniper; Juniperus communis

work with us

Are you a business or association interested in learning more about the wild ingredients in your products? Get in touch!

Caitlin Schindler
Project Officer – Wild at Home
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related news and reports

Explore the latest news and events relevant to the project and our work within sustainability for trade in wild plants.

TRAFFIC's Wild at Home project is generously funded by the Swedish Postcode Foundation.