From: WWF Newsroom
Published December 19, 2007 08:33 AM

Saving Plants that Save Lives

Poor or non-existent collection controls are threatening the survival of many of the plant species used in traditional and modern medicines. On some estimates, 15,000 of the 50,000 — 70,000 plant species used for medicinal purposes and mostly collected from the wild may be threatened, many as a direct result of unsustainable collection practices.

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Three years of collaboration in which WWF has played a key role have now produced the first set of principles and criteria for the sustainable wild collection of plants. “This important effort will benefit the health and well-being of both the ecosystems they are part of, and the local people who depend on them for their livelihoods”, stresses Dr. Susan Liebermann, Director of WWF’s Species Programme.

The new International Standard for Sustainable Wild Collection of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (ISSC-MAP) has been produced by the IUCN-SSC Medicinal Plant Specialist Group, TRAFFIC the wildlife monitoring network, WWF Germany and the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), with support from IUCN Canada.

Concern over the decline in medicinal and aromatic plant populations and supplies, has been growing for some years and the new standard addresses requests from industry, governments, organic certifiers, resource managers and collectors for a means of assessing the sustainability of wild collection. It also provides potential frameworks for addressing a rising consumer concern and desire for information on the sustainability and ethical implications of products.

This document is designed to help the people involved in the harvest, management, trade, manufacture and sale of wild-collected medicinal and aromatic plant resources to understand and comply with the conditions under which sustainable collection of these resources can take place.
IUCN, WWF and TRAFFIC - a joint programme of WWF and TRAFFIC - are working together in several countries to apply the ISSC-MAP to certification, resource management, and development of national laws and policies. They are also working with several independent companies and industry associations — currently in the Ukraine, Morocco and Bosnia-Herzegovina — to implement the ISSC-MAP through voluntary codes of practice.

The process of developing the principles and criteria that make up the ISSC-MAP has also involved an international, multi-stakeholder advisory group representing industry, independent certifiers, organizations working on fair trade, sustainable livelihoods and sustainable agriculture and forestry.

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