Going wise over sustainable use of wild plants

Ways to help government policy makers to engage the private sector in ensuring sustainable use of wild plants was explored at a side event entitled “‘Going wise’: mutual benefits for plant-based businesses and national policy-makers in sustainable use of wild plants”, which was held at the meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Hyderabad, India.

A close shot of medicinal plant Timur (zanthoxylum arnatum).

By Anastasiya Timoshyna, Medicinal Plants Programme Leader, TRAFFIC Anastasiya.timoshyna@traffic.org

Over 40 participants gathered to join in the lively discussions on effective policy-making for sustainable use of wild plants. Speakers included representatives from TRAFFIC, the FairWild Foundation, the UK-company Pukka Herbs Ltd., the Government of Madhya Pradesh, India, and the Savandurga Village Forest Committee, Karnataka, India, sharing experiences particularly from India.

The session brought together the perspectives of producers, NGOs, business, and governments, promoting discussion on how tools such as the FairWild Standard – a set of best practice guidelines for sustainable and equitable trade in wild plant resources - can help shape trade relations between producers and the wider market.

The involvement of the private sector in plant conservation is critical. Over 50,000 medicinal and aromatic plants (MAP) species are used globally for health, food and cosmetics, providing an important source of income for rural communities and national economies. At the same time, one-fifth of MAP species are threatened due to over-harvesting and land conversion.

The panel discussion included presentation by TRAFFIC, emphasizing that by providing these examples of good practices, we hope to promote the understanding among policy makers about the possibility to use wild plants sustainably. The FairWild Standard can be used as a tool to help CBD Parties, other governments and the private sector to implement Targets 11, 12 and 13 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC). The FairWild Standard is now available in thirteen different languages – a truly global tool. The FairWild Standard has recently been included into the Japan National Biodiversity Strategy as the best practice instrument for private sector compliance. Over the last 10 years, FairWild Standard was implemented in Asia, Africa, Europe and South America. In presentations that followed, the Co-Founder of Pukka Herbs, UK based company, noted that FairWild embodies what sustainable harvesting is all about. The implementation of FairWild is challenging for business, but Pukka Herbs was convinced this was the way to go in ensuring sustainability of wild harvesting and trade, as the application of FairWild provides for conservation through business, protects the future of supplies and of suppliers. The event further included presentations of community representatives from Karnataka, India, sharing experiences of local use of the FairWild principles, and talk by the Government of India representative, explaining how the principles and criteria of the FairWild Standard can inform the development of progressive policies allowing for private sector leadership in sustainable use. This was illustrated with the example of Madhya Pradesh State in India.

In the discussion that followed the presentations, questions were asked about companies in India changing their business practices towards sustainability and changing attitudes of consumers and preference for FairWild label. A representative of Dabur, one of largest traders of medicinal plants in India, commented about the variety of business activities for sustainability of production. Additional comments from the floor concerned integration of the FairWild principles into the Forest Working Plans in India, the need for additional capacity-building for communities, the importance of FairWild impact assessment, and support for community-to-community learning.

The event also highlighted the contribution of sustainable sourcing efforts to the delivery of Target 4 of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and Objective 3 of GSPC, and to support for the principles of the Nagoya Protocol. A number of other events supported by TRAFFIC and IUCN MPSG included the discussion on the sustainable use of wild plants.

The event was coordinated by TRAFFIC, with the FairWild Foundation and IUCN Medicinal Plant Specialist Group as co-organizers. Financial support was provided by WWF Japan.

The FairWild Standard is included in the new toolkit for implementation of the GSPC (www.plants2020.net) as a means of best practice for the delivery of Target 12 and contribution to the delivery of Aichi Target 4. TRAFFIC is also contributing to the implementation of the Strategy as a member of the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation (GPPC) (http://www.plants2020.net/gppc/).

The FairWild Standard was developed with the involvement of a number of organizations including IUCN, TRAFFIC, and WWF. It is now maintained by the FairWild Foundation, established in 2008 to promote further development and uptake of the Standard’s principles.

For more details, see www.fairwild.org
For more on TRAFFIC and CBD see www.traffic.org/cbd
See following links for other CBD CoP11 events relevant to sustainable use and conservation of wild plants:

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