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A Comparison of Cultivation and Wild Collection of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Under Sustainability Aspects

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With the increased realization that many wild medicinal and aromatic plant (MAP) species are being over-exploited, a number of agencies are recommending that wild species be brought into cultivation systems. Others argue sustainable harvest to be the most important conservation strategy for most wild-harvested species, given their contributions to local economies and their greater value to harvesters over the long term. Besides poverty and the breakdown of traditional controls, the major challenges for sustainable wild-collection include: lack of knowledge about sustainable harvest rates and practices, undefined land use rights and lack of legislative and policy guidance. Identifying the conservation benefits and costs of the different production systems for MAP should help guide policies as to whether species conservation should take place in nature or the nursery, or both.
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R.J. Bogers, L.E. Craker and D. Lange (eds.), Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, 75-95.
© 2006 Springer. Printed in the Netherlands
CHAPTER 6
A COMPARISON OF CULTIVATION AND WILD
COLLECTION OF MEDICINAL AND AROMATIC
PLANTS UNDER SUSTAINABILITY ASPECTS
UWE SCHIPPMANN#, DANNA LEAMAN## AND
A.B. CUNNINGHAM###
#Bundesamt für Naturschutz, Konstantinstraße 110, D-53179 Bonn, Germany
## Chair, Medicinal Plant Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission,
IUCN, World Conservation Union, 98 Russell Av., Ottawa, ON, K1N 7X1, Canada
### School for Environmental Research, Charles Darwin University,
Darwin NT 0909, Australia
Abstract. With the increased realization that many wild medicinal and aromatic plant (MAP) species are
being over-exploited, a number of agencies are recommending that wild species be brought into
cultivation systems. Others argue sustainable harvest to be the most important conservation strategy for
most wild-harvested species, given their contributions to local economies and their greater value to
harvesters over the long term.
Besides poverty and the breakdown of traditional controls, the major challenges for sustainable wild-
collection include: lack of knowledge about sustainable harvest rates and practices, undefined land use
rights and lack of legislative and policy guidance.
Identifying the conservation benefits and costs of the different production systems for MAP should
help guide policies as to whether species conservation should take place in nature or the nursery, or both.
Keywords: domestication; plant breeding; livelihoods; health care; plant trade; poverty alleviation;
income generation
INTRODUCTION
Since time immemorial, people have gathered plant and animal resources for their
needs. Examples include edible nuts, mushrooms, fruits, herbs, spices, gums, game,
fodder, fibres used for construction of shelter and housing, clothing or utensils, and
plant or animal products for medicinal, cosmetic or cultural uses. Even today,
hundreds of millions of people, mostly in developing countries, derive a significant
part of their subsistence needs and income from gathered plant and animal products
(Iqbal 1993; Walter 2001). Gathering of high-value products such as mushrooms
(morels, matsutake, truffles), medicinal plants (ginseng, black cohosh, goldenseal)
76 U. SCHIPPMANN ET AL.
also continues in developed countries for cultural and economic reasons (Jones et al.
2002).
Among these uses, medicinal plants play a central role, not only as traditional
medicines used in many cultures but also as trade commodities that meet the
demand of often distant markets. For the purpose of this paper the term ‘medicinal
and aromatic plants’ (MAP) is defined to cover the whole range of plants used not
only medicinally sensu stricto but also in the neighbouring and often overlapping
fields of condiments, food and cosmetics.
Demand for a wide variety of wild species is increasing with growth in human
needs, numbers and commercial trade. With the increased realization that some wild
species are being over-exploited, a number of agencies are recommending that wild
species be brought into cultivation systems (BAH 2004; Lambert et al. 1997; WHO
1993). Cultivation can also have conservation impacts, however, and these need to
be better understood. Medicinal plant production through cultivation, for example,
can reduce the extent to which wild populations are harvested, but it also may lead
to environmental degradation and loss of genetic diversity as well as loss of
incentives to conserve wild populations (Assessing the impacts of commercial
captive breeding and artificial propagation on wild species conservation, IUCN/SSC
Workshop, 7-9.12.2001, Jacksonville. Draft workshop report 2002).
The relationship between in situ and ex situ conservation of species is an
interesting topic with implications for local communities, public and private land
owners and managers, entire industries and, of course, wild species. Identifying the
conservation benefits and costs of the different production systems for MAP should
help guide policies as to whether species conservation should take place in nature or
the nursery, or both (Bodeker et al. 1997; Schippmann et al. 2002; Schippmann et al.
2005).
CONCEPT OF SUSTAINABILITY
As a baseline element of the ecosystem approach it has to be recognized that
humans, with their cultural diversity, are an integral component of ecosystems. In
conceptual terms, the essence of sustainable development is expressed by the long-
term relationship between people and the ecosystem around it. This implies that
ultimately one is entirely dependent upon the other. Human and ecosystem well-
being need to be assessed together. When both the human condition and the
condition of the ecosystem are satisfactory or improving, then a society is
considered to be sustainable. The system improves only when both the condition of
the ecosystem and the human condition improve (Prescott-Allen and Prescott-Allen
1996).
Sustainability is more commonly viewed from an ecological perspective in terms
of plant or animal populations. A sustainable system for harvesting MAP is one
where fruits, seeds or other plant parts can be harvested indefinitely from a set area
without detrimental impact on the structure and dynamics on the harvested plant
populations (Peters 1994; Cunningham 2001). What is needed, however, is a
sustainable harvest approach which takes four interlinked scales into account at the:
COMPARISON OF CULTIVATION 77
(1) landscape level; (2) community and ecosystem level; (3) plant population level;
and (4) genetic level (Noss 1990). Disturbance processes can directly affect
sustainable harvesting through their influence on plant populations. Positive links
between plant diversity and disturbance factors exist for medicinal plants. One
example is Arnica montana in traditional meadows in Europe, where annual mowing
and seasonal grazing by livestock without artificial fertilizer inputs enable diverse
and often rare species populations to thrive (Ellenberger 1999; Myklestad and
Saetersdal 2004).
SOME FIGURES TO START WITH…
How many MAP are used worldwide?
The number of plant species that have been used at one time or another, and even
the number in current use in some culture for medicinal purposes, can only be
Table 1. How many plants are used medicinally worldwide?
Country Plant species Medicinal plant species %
Bulgaria 3,567 750 21.0
China 32,200 4,941 15.3
France 4,630 900 19.4
Hungary 2,214 270 12.2
India 18,664 3,000 16.1
Jordan 2,100 363 17.3
Korea, Rep. of 2,898 1,000 34.5
Malaysia 15,500 1,200 7.7
Nepal 6,973 900 12.9
Pakistan 4,950 1,500 30.3
Philippines 8,931 850 9.5
Sri Lanka 3,314 550 16.6
Thailand 11,625 1,800 15.5
USA 21,641 2,564 11.8
Vietnam 10,500 1,800 17.1
Average 17.1
World 422,000 72,000
Sources: WHO (1998); Duke and Ayensu (1985); Govaerts (2001);
Groombridge (1994); Groombridge and Jenkins (2002); Hardalova et al. (1998);
Jain and DeFillipps (1991); Lange (1998); Manandhar and Manandhar (2002);
Moerman (1996); Oran and Ali-Eisawi (1998); De Padua et al. (1999);Zahoor
Ahmad (1997).
78 U. SCHIPPMANN ET AL.
estimated. An enumeration of the WHO from the late 1970s listed 21,000 medicinal
species (Penso 1980). However, in China alone 4,941 of 32,200 indigenous plant
species are used as drugs in Chinese traditional medicine (Groombridge 1994), an
astonishing 15.3 percent. If this proportion is calculated for other well-known
medicinal floras and then applied to the global total of 422,000 flowering plant
species (Bramwell 2002; Govaerts 2001), it can be estimated that the number of
plant species used for medicinal purposes is more than 70,000 (Table 1).
How many MAP species are traded?
It is difficult to assess how many MAP are commercially traded, either on a national
or even an international level. The bulk of the plant material is exported from
developing countries while major markets are in the developed countries. An
analysis of UNCTAD trade figures for 1981–1998 reflects this almost universal
feature of MAP trade (Table 2). Adding the volumes for the five European countries
in this list (94,300 tonnes) marks the dominance of Europe as an import region.
Germany ranks fourth and third as importer and exporter, expressing the country’s
major role as a turntable for medicinal plant raw materials worldwide.
Table 2. The 12 leading countries of import and export of medicinal and aromatic plant
material, 1991–1998 (Lange 2002)
Country of
import Volume
[tonnes] Value
[1000
US$]
Country
of export Volume
[tonnes] Value
[1000 US$]
Hong Kong 73,650 314,000 China 139,750 298,650
Japan 56,750 146,650 India 36,750 57,400
USA 56,000 133,350 Germany 15,050 72,400
Germany 45,850 113,900 USA 11,950 114,450
Rep. Korea 31,400 52,550 Chile 11,850 29,100
France 20,800 50,400 Egypt 11,350 13,700
China 12,400 41,750 Singapore 11,250 59,850
Italy 11,450 42,250 Mexico 10,600 10 050
Pakistan 11,350 11,850 Bulgaria 10,150 14,850
Spain 8,600 27,450 Pakistan 8,100 5,300
UK 7,600 25,550 Albania 7,350 14,050
Singapore 6,550 55,500 Morocco 7,250 13,200
Total 342,550 1,015,200 Total 281,550 643,200
Figures based on commodity group pharmaceutical plants (SITC.3: 292.4 =
HS 1211). Source: UNCTAD COMTRADE database, United Nations
Statistics Division, New York.
COMPARISON OF CULTIVATION 79
Iqbal (1993) estimates that about “4000 to 6000 botanicals are of commercial
importance”, another source refers to 5,000 to 6,000 “botanicals entering the world
market” (SCBD 2001). A thorough investigation of the German medicinal plant
trade identified a total of 1,543 MAP being traded or offered on the German market
(Lange and Schippmann 1997). An extension of this survey to Europe as a whole
arrived at 2,000 species in trade for medicinal purposes (Lange 1998). Recognizing
the role of Europe as a sink for MAP traded from all regions of the world, it is a
qualified guess that the total number of MAP in international trade will be around
3,000 species worldwide.
How many MAP are threatened worldwide?
To satisfy the regional and international markets, the plant sources for expanding
local, regional and international markets are harvested in increasing volumes and
largely from wild populations (Kuipers 1997; Lange 1998). Supplies of wild plants
in general are increasingly limited by deforestation from logging and conversion to
plantations, pasture and agriculture (Ahmad 1998; Cunningham 1993).
In many cases, the impact through direct off-take goes hand-in-hand with decline
owing to changes in land use. Species favoured by extensive agricultural
management like Arnica montana in central Europe go into decline with changes in
farming practices towards higher nutrient input on the meadows. This requires
habitat management as the key factor in managing species populations (Ellenberger
1999).
One of the goals of the IUCN Medicinal Plant Specialist Group is to identify the
species that have become threatened by non-sustainable harvest and other factors.
The enormity of this task is illustrated by the following estimate: According to
Walter and Gillett (1998), 34,000 species out of 49,000 species assessed were found
to be globally threatened with extinction. A more recent assessment by Bramwell
(2003) estimates that 21% of the world’s flora is threatened. If the latter figure is
applied to our earlier extrapolation that 72,000 plant species are used medicinally, it
leads us to estimate that about 15,000 MAP species are threatened at least to some
degree (Table 3).
Table 3. How many medicinal plant species are threatened?
Number of flowering plant species
worldwide
(Govaerts 2001): 422,000 plant species
17.1% of them are used medicinally
(see Table 1): 72,000 plant species
21% are threatened (Bramwell 2003): 15,000 medicinal species
80 U. SCHIPPMANN ET AL.
How many MAP are under cultivation?
Many medicinal plants, especially the aromatic herbs, are grown in home gardens,
some are cultivated as field crops, either in sole cropping or in intercropping systems
and rarely as plantation crops (De Padua et al. 1999).
In a survey carried out for the Rainforest Alliance, companies involved in trade
and production of herbal remedies and other botanical products were asked what
percentage of their material is from cultivated sources and what percentage from the
wild. On average, companies reported that 60–90% of material was cultivated, with
the remaining wild-harvested. However, when asked about species numbers rather
than volume of material, the figures are generally inverted (Laird and Pierce 2002).
Lange and Schippmann (1997) state that of the 1,543 species traded in Germany,
only 50–100 species (3–6%) are exclusively sourced from cultivation.
Of more than 400 plants species used for production of medicine by the Indian
herbal industry, fewer than 20 species are currently under cultivation in different
parts of the country (Uniyal et al. 2000). In China, about 5,000 medicinal plants
have been identified and about 1,000 are more commonly used, but only 100–250
species are cultivated (Xiao 1991; He and Ning 1997). In Hungary, a country with a
long tradition of MAP cultivation, only 40 species are cultivated for commercial
production (Bernáth 1999; Palevitch 1991). In Europe as a whole, only 130–140
MAP species are cultivated (Pank 1998; Verlet and Leclercq 1999).
Based on these figures, we assume that the number of MAP species currently in
formal cultivation for commercial production does not exceed a few hundred
worldwide – less than 1% of the total number of medicinal plants used. On the other
hand, however, we recognize that many more MAP species are cultivated on a small
scale in home gardens, either as home remedies or by herbalists. Cultivation by local
people can take also place as enrichment planting. A global survey on the extent of
MAP commercial cultivation in terms of species, volumes and values is currently
being carried out by TRAFFIC International.
WILD OR CULTIVATED: WHAT DOES THE MARKET WANT?
Given the demand for a continuous and uniform supply of medicinal plants and the
accelerating depletion of forest resources, increasing the number of medicinal plant
species in cultivation would appear to be an important strategy for meeting a
growing demand (Uniyal et al. 2000).
But why are so few species cultivated? Why are some species cultivated and so
many others not?
One explanation may be found in the observation that cultivated plants are
sometimes considered qualitatively inferior when compared with wild-gathered
specimens. For instance, wild ginseng roots are 5–10 times more valuable than roots
produced by artificial propagation (Robbins 1998). The reason is primarily cultural,
as the Chinese community, which is the largest consumer group of wild ginseng,
believes that the similarity in appearance of gnarled wild roots to the human body
symbolizes the vitality and potency of the root. Cultivated roots lack the
characteristic shape of wild roots and are therefore not as highly coveted by
COMPARISON OF CULTIVATION 81
consumers (Robbins 1998). In Botswana, traditional medicinal practitioners said that
cultivated material was unacceptable, as cultivated plants did not have the power of
material collected from the wild (Cunningham 1994).
Scientific studies partly support this. Medicinal properties in plants are mainly
due to the presence of secondary metabolites which the plants need in their natural
environments under particular conditions of stress and competition and which
perhaps would not be expressed under monoculture conditions. Active-ingredient
levels can be much lower in fast-growing cultivated stocks, whereas wild
populations can be older due to slow growth rates and can have higher levels of
active ingredients. While it can be presumed that cultivated plants are likely to be
somewhat different in their properties from those gathered from their natural
habitats it is also clear that certain values in plants can be deliberately enhanced
under controlled conditions of cultivation (Palevitch 1991; Uniyal et al. 2000).
In general, in all countries, the trend is towards a greater proportion of cultivated
material. The majority of companies, the mass-market, over-the-counter
pharmaceutical companies as well as the larger herb companies, prefer cultivated
material, particularly since cultivated material can be certified ‘biodynamic’ or
‘organic’ (Laird and Pierce 2002).
From the perspective of the market, domestication and cultivation provide a
number of advantages over wild-harvest for production of plant-based medicines: (i)
While wild-collection often offers material adulterated with unwanted, sometimes
harmful other plant species, cultivation provides reliable botanical identification. (ii)
Wild-harvest volumes are dependent on many factors that cannot be controlled, and
irregularity of supply is a common feature. Cultivation guarantees a steady source of
raw material. (iii) Wholesalers and pharmaceutical companies can agree on volumes
and prices over time with the grower. (iv) The selection and development of
genotypes with commercially desirable traits from the wild or managed populations
may offer opportunities for the economic development of the medicinal plant
species as a crop. (v) Cultivation allows controlled post-harvest handling and,
therefore, (vi) quality controls can be assured, and (vii) product standards can be
adjusted to regulations and consumer preferences. (viii) Cultivated material can be
easily certified ‘organic’ or ‘biodynamic’ although certifiers and other agencies are
also presently developing wildcrafting standards (Honnef et al. 2005; Leaman 2004;
Pierce et al. 2002).
However, domestication of the resource through farming is not always
technically possible. Many species are difficult to cultivate because of certain
biological features or ecological requirements (such as slow growth rate, special soil
requirements, interactions with pollinators and other species, low germination rates,
susceptibility to pests). Lack of secure, long-term tenure over high-value, long-lived
species is also often a concern amongst farmers. These social and biological factors
in turn affect the economic viability of medicinal-plant cultivation.
Economical feasibility is the main rationale for a decision to bring a species in
cultivation but it is also a substantial limitation as long as sufficient volumes of
material can still be obtained at a lower price from wild-harvest. Cultivated material
will be competing with material harvested from the wild that is supplied onto the
market by commercial gatherers who have incurred no input costs for cultivation.
82 U. SCHIPPMANN ET AL.
Low prices, whether for local use or for the international pharmaceutical trade,
ensure that few species can be marketed at a high enough price to make cultivation
profitable (Cunningham 1994). Domestication of a previously wild-collected species
does not only require substantial investment of capital (up to 200,000 US$; Plescher
in litt.) but also requires several years of investigations (e.g. 12 years for Alchemilla
alpina; Schneider et al. 1999).
WILD OR CULTIVATED: WHAT DO PEOPLE NEED?
Health-care needs
There is a worldwide trend of increasing demand for many popular, effective species
in Europe, North America and Asia, growing between 8 and 15% per year
(Grünwald and Büttel 1996). Rapid urbanization and the importance of herbal
medicines in African health-care systems stimulated a growing national and regional
trade in Africa (Cunningham 1993). A similar situation exists in Latin America,
where large volumes of medicinal plants are sold in urban markets (Shanley and Luz
2003). Demand for medicinal plants also reflects distinct cultural preferences. In the
USA, for example, only 3% of people surveyed had used herbal medicine in the past
year (Eisenberg et al. 1993), whereas in Germany, with a strong tradition of
medicinal plant use, 31% of the over-the-counter products in pharmacies in 2001
were phytopharmaceutical preparations (BAH 2004).
The level of herbal medicine use in most developing countries is much higher
than this. While most traditional medicinal plants are gathered from the wild, these
are not static health-care systems, and introduced species are commonly adopted
into the repertoire of plants used by African or South-American herbalists. In many
cases, herbal medicines can also be cheaper than western medicines, particularly
where access to traditional healers is easier. Demand for traditional medicine
continues in the urban environment even if western biomedicine is available
(Assessing the impacts of commercial captive breeding and artificial propagation on
wild species conservation, IUCN/SSC Workshop, 7-9.12.2001, Jacksonville. Draft
workshop report 2002; Mander et al. 1996).
Income generation
Wild-harvesting of medicinal plants is a chance for the poorest to make at least some
cash income. Especially those people who do not have access to farm land at all
depend on gathering MAP to earn at least some money. However, local people
generally get a low price for unprocessed plant material. Although income from
Prunus africana bark sales is an important source of revenue to villagers in
Madagascar, in some cases generating >30% of village revenue, the price paid to
collectors is negligible compared to Madagascan middlemen (Walter and
Rakotonirina 1995). In Mexico, Hersch-Martinez (1995) found that medicinal-plant
collectors only received an average 6.17% of the medicinal-plant consumer price.
COMPARISON OF CULTIVATION 83
Whether fruits, roots, bark or whole plants are involved, the potential yield from
wild stocks of many species is frequently over-estimated, particularly if the effects
of stochastic events is taken into account (Nantel et al. 1996). As a result,
commercial harvesting ventures based on wild populations can be characterized by a
‘boom and bust’ situation where initial harvests are followed by declining resource
availability.
Small-scale cultivation and home gardens
Small-scale cultivation, which requires low economic inputs, can be a response to
declining local stocks, generating income and supplying regional markets. This can
be a more secure income than from wild-harvest, which is notoriously inconsistent.
For farmers that integrate MAP into agroforestry or small-scale farming systems,
these species can provide a diversified and additional source of income to the
family. Home gardens are increasingly a focus of medicinal-plant propagation and
introduction programmes intended to encourage the use of traditional remedies for
common ailments by making the plant sources more accessible (Agelet et al. 2000).
Large-scale cultivation
As outlined by Leakey and Izac (1996), large-scale cultivation has a number of
socio-economic impacts on rural people: “Commercialization is both necessary and
potentially harmful to farmers. It is necessary in that without it the market for
products is small and the opportunity does not exist for rural people to generate
income. A degree of product domestication is therefore desirable. On the other hand,
commercialization is potentially harmful to rural people if it expands to the point
that outsiders with capital to invest come in and develop large-scale monocultural
plantations for export markets. Rural people may benefit from plantations as a result
of available employment and hence off-farm income […]. However, plantations may
also distort market forces to their advantage, for example, by imposing low wages
which will restrict the social and economic development of local people. The major
beneficiaries of large-scale exports will probably be the country’s elite and, perhaps,
the national economy”.
Also, those socially disadvantaged groups who actually depend on gathering
MAP for their survival and cash income may not have access to farm land at all, and
are therefore not able to compete with large-scale production of MAP by well-
established farmers ((Vantomme in Conservation impacts of commercial captive
breeding workshop, December 7-9, 2001, White Oak Foundation, Jacksonville,
Florida USA. Selected briefing notes 2002). Other limitations to the domestication
approach include boom-bust and fickle markets that let farmers down when
consumers turn their attention elsewhere (Laird and Pierce 2002).
84 U. SCHIPPMANN ET AL.
WILD OR CULTIVATED: WHAT DO THE SPECIES AND ECOSYSTEMS
REQUIRE?
Cultivation of medicinal plants is widely viewed not only as a means for meeting
current and future demands for large-volume production of plant-based drugs and
herbal remedies, but also as a means for relieving harvest pressure on wild
populations (FAO 1995; Lambert et al. 1997; Palevitch 1991; De Silva 1997; WHO
1993). In this chapter we want to assess the benefits and risks associated with such
recommendations.
Booming markets with rapidly rising demands often have devastating effects on
wild-collected species. A closer look reveals that not all species are affected in the
same way by harvesting pressures. The seven forms of rarity described by
Rabinowitz (1981) make clear that a species which (i) has a narrow geographic
distribution, (ii) is habitat-specific, and (iii) has small population sizes everywhere,
is more easily over-harvested than species of any other pattern (Table 4).
Table 4. Seven forms of rarity (after Rabinowitz 1981)
Geographic distribution
Habitat specificity
Local population size
somewhere large least concern
broad everywhere small
somewhere large
wide restricted everywhere small
somewhere large
broad everywhere small
somewhere large
narrow
restricted everywhere small highly susceptible
Secondly, the susceptibility or resilience to collection pressure varies among
species owing to biological characters such as different growth rates (slow-growing
vs. fast-growing), reproductive systems (vegetative or generative propagation;
germination rates; dormance; apomixis) and life forms (annual; perennial; tree).
Species can be distinguished quite well in their susceptibility to over-collection if
their life form and the plant parts collected are viewed together (Table 5).
Harvesting fruits from a long-lived tree presents a far lower threat to the long-term
survival of the species than does collecting seeds from an annual plant. In the latter
case, if the seed is gone the plant is gone. In some cases the harvest impacts are
more complex, e.g., with slow-growing trees that reproduce from seed but only
produce few, large fruits (example: Araucaria araucana, monkey-puzzle tree). This
will increase their susceptibility to over-harvest from low to medium or even high. A
COMPARISON OF CULTIVATION 85
thorough summary of predictors of resilience or vulnerability to harvesting wild
populations is presented by Cunningham (2001).
Table 5. Susceptibility of species to overcollection as a function of life form and plant parts
used
Wood Bark Root Leaf Flower Fruit / Seed
Annual --- --- high medium medium high
Biannual --- --- high medium medium high
Perennial --- medium high low low low
Shrub medium medium? medium? low low low
Tree medium medium? medium? low low low
In summary we can state that species most susceptible to over-harvest are
habitat-specific, slow-growing and destructively harvested for their bark, roots or the
whole plant. These species suffer most from harvesting and many of them have been
seriously depleted, for example Prunus africana in West Africa, Warburgia
salutaris in southern Africa and Saussurea costus in the Himalaya.
For threatened medicinal plant species cultivation is a conservation option
because the constant drain of material from their populations is much higher than the
annual sustained yield. If the demand for these species can be met from cultivated
sources the pressure on the wild populations will be relieved. In these cases, the
need for strict conservation of remaining populations, improved security of
germplasm ex situ and investment in selection and improvement programmes is
extremely urgent, as the example of Jaborandi (Pilocarpus jaborandi) in Brazil
shows (Pinheiro 1997).
However, among the species that can be marketed at a high enough price to
make cultivation profitable, only few are in the highest threat categories. Examples
for threatened but cultivated species are Garcinia afzelii, Panax quinquefolius,
Saussurea costus and Warburgia salutaris (Cunningham 1994). With respect to
economic viability many highly endangered MAP do not qualify for cultivation.
This group of plants will enter cultivation only with the help of public domestication
programmes.
For all other harvested MAP species the priority conservation option is
sustainable harvest from wild populations, for a variety of reasons.
Let’s imagine that a valuable medicinal plant is exploited by local collectors. A
pharmaceutical company has domesticated and begun to cultivate the plant on a
commercial scale. When the company no longer needs the wild-harvested material,
local harvesters have to abandon the harvest and any incentive the local collectors
might have had to protect the wild populations is gone. The domestication of MAP
species has an environmental implication in the sense that it reduces the economic
incentives for forest-dependent people to conserve the ecosystems in which the
MAP species occur (Leaman et al. 1997; Vantomme in Conservation impacts of
86 U. SCHIPPMANN ET AL.
commercial captive breeding workshop, December 7-9, 2001, White Oak
Foundation, Jacksonville, Florida USA. Selected briefing notes 2002).
If collectors and collecting communities can be involved in the development of
propagation and management methods, the likelihood of their having an interest in
protecting the wild populations from over-exploitation, particularly if these are
understood to be the genetic resource ‘bank’ for the domestic enterprises, will be
greater.
Another aspect to consider is the genetic diversity of the species that is in
demand. Long before non-sustainable harvest practices lead to extermination of a
whole species, selection of favoured growth forms and concentration on certain
harvesting areas which may hold certain ecotypes will lead to a degradation of
genetic diversity of the wild populations. The same is true under domestication:
industry requirements for standardization encourage a narrow genetic range of
material in cultivation. Domestication will not achieve conservation of genetic
diversity because a narrow group of high-yielding individuals will be selected for
planting.
As a summary of the previous sections, Table 6 in the Appendix indicates the
advantages and disadvantages for the three aspects distinguished:
‘species/ecosytems’, ‘market’ and ‘people’.
CHALLENGES OF HARVESTING SUSTAINABLY FROM THE WILD
Sustainable harvest is increasingly seen to be the most important conservation
strategy for most wild-harvested species and their habitats, given their current and
potential contributions to local economies and their greater value to harvesters over
the long term. The basic idea is that non-destructive harvests and local benefits will
maintain population, species and ecosystem diversity.
Besides poverty and the breakdown of traditional controls, the major challenges
for sustainable wild-collection include: lack of knowledge about sustainable harvest
rates and practices, undefined land use rights and lack of legislative and policy
guidance.
Lack of information on the wild resource
“The most important ingredient required to achieve a truly sustainable form of
resource use is information” (Peters 1994). In reality, resource managers are always
confronted with the lack of adequate information about the plants used, their
distribution, the genetic diversity of wild populations and relatives and, above all,
the annual sustained yield that can be harvested without damaging the populations
(Iqbal 1993). Research on the conservation and sustainable use of medicinal plants
and their habitats has fallen far behind the demand for this globally important
resource. Each species has unique ecological, socioeconomic, health and cultural
associations that must be understood. Model research approaches are feasible, ‘one
size fits all’ solutions are not. Lasting solutions have to be tailored to local
circumstances.
COMPARISON OF CULTIVATION 87
Problems of open access
In many cases, access to the resource is open to everybody, rather than a limited
access or private ownership. To make a living, commercial medicinal-plant
gatherers therefore ‘mine’ rather than manage these resources (Cunningham 1994).
Open-access schemes to harvestable plant populations prevent rational and cautious
use and make it difficult to adhere to quotas and closed seasons.
Lack of legislative and policy support for wild-harvesting schemes
Information on trade in MAP is scarce and data are rarely collected or published at a
national level. Much production and consumption is at subsistence level and as a
consequence the economic importance of these activities is largely under-estimated
in government decision making regarding rural development, natural-resource
management planning and in government budget allocations (Vantomme in
Conservation impacts of commercial captive breeding workshop, December 7-9,
2001, White Oak Foundation, Jacksonville, Florida USA. Selected briefing notes
2002). Therefore, national legislation and policies mostly fail to provide frameworks
for a rational and sustainable use of wild resources.
Opportunities for governments to develop legislation to control and monitor
harvest and trade of medicinal plant species and to consider conservation and
sustainable use of medicinal plants as a priority in establishing protected areas have
been greatly enhanced by two developments in international legislation: the addition
of medicinal plant species to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered
Species (CITES) and the entry into force of the CBD.
FUTURE TRENDS AND SOLUTIONS
How will the market demand develop in the future? People in developing countries
are already and will increasingly be depending on medicinal plants as sources for
their primary health care. An estimate by the World Health Organization
(Bannerman 1982) that more than 80% of the world’s population relies solely or
largely on traditional remedies for health care is frequently cited.
Also in the northern countries, use of medicinal plants is expected to rise
globally, in both allopathic and herbal medicine (WHO 2002). This upward trend is
predicted not only because of population explosion, but also due to increasing
popularity for natural-based, environmentally friendly products.
Most MAP species will continue to be harvested from the wild
The limitations of cultivation as an alternative to wild-harvest have been examined
by Sheldon et al. (1996) in several case studies. We share their conclusion that,
notwithstanding the level of interest in cultivation as a means for enhanced
production and in a few cases as an effort to contribute to conservation of the
resource, most MAP species will continue to be wild-harvested to some extent.
There is therefore a need to recognize and strengthen the role of local people in
88 U. SCHIPPMANN ET AL.
forest inventory, monitoring and impact assessment processes and to integrate non-
timber product uses into forest management.
Need for implementation of management plans
Limiting the harvest to a sustainable level requires an effective management system
and sound scientific information. The management system must include annual
harvest quotas, consider seasonal or geographical restrictions and restriction of
harvest to particular plant parts or size classes. In addition, clarification of the access
and user rights to the resources providing MAP is part of the essential baseline
information. Continuous monitoring and evaluation of the success is necessary to
adapt the management strategy (FAO 1995; Leaman et al. 1997; Prescott-Allen and
Prescott-Allen 1996; Schippmann 1997; WHO 1993).
In many cases harvesting techniques need to be improved as the extraction of the
roots or bark is often negatively affecting the recovery of the species or may even
kill it. Collecting methods are often crude and wasteful, resulting in loss of quality
and reduction in price (Iqbal 1993; Vantomme in Conservation impacts of
commercial captive breeding workshop, December 7-9, 2001, White Oak
Foundation, Jacksonville, Florida USA. Selected briefing notes 2002).
Field-based methods have already been developed for sustainable harvest
assessment and monitoring of non-wood forest products, resulting in the publication
of research guidelines and predictive models (Cunningham 2001; FAO 1995; Nantel
et al. 1996; Peters 1994).
Eco-labelling and certification
Given that sustainable harvesting from the wild is difficult to achieve, certification
standards can play a role to assure that a product meets certain standards of
sustainability. Certification programmes related to natural-resource use have mainly
been developed for timber and agricultural products, but they are presently being
adapted for wild-harvest of non-timber plants. Various schemes focus on different
areas along the supply chain: production, processing, trade, manufacturing and
marketing. Four categories of certification schemes have been identified to be of
relevance for MAP products (Walter 2002): (i) forest management certification (e.g.,
Forest Stewardship Council FSC); (ii) social certification (e.g., Fair Trade
Federation FTF); (iii) organic certification (e.g., International Federation of Organic
Agriculture IFOAM); and (iv) product quality certification.
The latter include parameters such as product identity, purity, safety and
efficacy. Correct identification of harvested medicinal plants is a basic requirement.
Good practices for plant identification have been developed in Canada (Brigham et
al. 2004) and for Chinese traditional medicines sold in the UK (Leon et al. 2002).
The Good Agricultural and Field Collection Practices (GACP) developed for
medicinal plants by WHO cover to some degree ecological aspects (WHO 2003) but
need to be more clearly focussed on this aspect before they can make a meaningful
contribution to ensuring sustainability. Presently, an International Standard for the
COMPARISON OF CULTIVATION 89
Sustainable Wild Collection of MAP is under development (Honnef et al. 2005).
Dürbeck (1999), Walter (2002) and, most comprehensively, Pierce et al. (2002)
present overviews of certification programmes and their activities; see also the
chapter by Leaman in this book.
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COMPARISON OF CULTIVATION 93
APPENDIX
Table 6. Wild-harvesting versus cultivation of medicinal and aromatic plants: a summary of
advantages and disadvantages
For species and ecosystems it is better to ...
wild-harvest because ... cultivate because ...
& it puts wild plant populations in the
continuing interest of local people
& it provides an incentive to protect
and maintain wild populations and
their habitats and the genetic
diversity of MAP populations
but ...
' uncontrolled harvest may lead to
the extinction of ecotypes and even
species
' common access to the resource
makes it difficult to adhere to
quotas and the pre-cautionary
principle
' in most cases knowledge about the
biology of the resource is poor and
the annual sustained yields are not
known
' in most cases resource inventories
and accompanying management
plans do not exist
& it relieves harvesting pressure on
very rare and slow-growing
species that are most susceptible
to threat
but ...
' it devaluates wild plant resources
and their habitats economically
and reduces incentive to conserve
ecosystems
' it narrows the genetic diversity of
the gene pool of the resource
because wild relatives of
cultivated species become
neglected
' it may lead to conversion of
habitats for cultivation
' cultivated species may become
invasive and have negative
impacts on ecosystems
' reintroducing plants can lead to
genetic pollution of wild
populations
Table 6 (cont.)
94 U. SCHIPPMANN ET AL.
Table 6 (cont.)
The market demands …
wild-harvested plants because ... cultivated material because ...
& it is cheaper since it does not
require infrastructure and
investment
& many species are only required in
small quantities that do not make
cultivation economically viable
& for some plant parts extra-large
cultivation areas are required (e.g.,
Arnica production for flowers)
& successful cultivation techniques
do not exist, e.g., for slow-growing,
habitat-specific taxa
& no pesticides are used
& it is often believed that wild plants
are more powerful
but …
' there is a risk of adulterations
' there is a risk of contaminations
through non-hygienic harvest or
post-harvest conditions
& it guarantees continuing supply of
raw material
& it makes reliable botanical
identification possible
& genotypes can be standardized or
improved
& quality standards are easy to
maintain
& controlled post-harvest handling is
possible
& production volume and price can
be agreed for longer periods
& resource price is relatively stable
over time
& certification as organic production
is possible
but …
' it is more expensive than wild-
harvest
' it needs substantial investment
before and during production
Table 6 (cont.)
COMPARISON OF CULTIVATION 95
Table 6 (cont.)
From a perspective of the people it is better to …
wild-harvest because … cultivate because ...
&it provides access to cash income
without prior investment
&it provides herbal medicines for
health-care needs
&it maintains the resources for rural
populations on a long-term basis (if
done sustainably)
but ...
'unclear land rights create ownership
problems
'this income and health-care resource
is becoming scarce through over-
harvesting
&it secures steady supply of herbal
medicines (home gardens)
&it provides in-country value-
adding
but ...
'capital investment for small
farmers is high
'competition from large-scale
production puts pressure on small
farmers and on wild harvesters
'benefits are made elsewhere and
traditional resource users have no
benefit return (IPR)
... However, current area cultivated with medicinal plants covers only a small fraction of the industry needs (Argyropoulos, 2019). The number of plant species used for medicinal purposes world-wide might exceed 50,000, but in Europe about 2,000 plant species are in trade for medicinal use (Schippmann et al., 2006). ...
... Growers can consider extending their range of cultivated species to take advantage of the industry and market opportunities. This can be achieved by extending the cultivation of medicinal species and introducing novel ones into cultivation (Schippmann et al., 2002(Schippmann et al., , 2006Argyropoulos, 2019). ...
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Researches carrying evidence for various uses and bioactive principles of Agastache spp. are justifying the upscaling into cultivation of these medicinal species. But, hindrances in their cultivation exist due to the insufficient documentation of their biology under field conditions. Because productivity of these medicinal species (herba) is ensured by the combined contribution of plant agronomic traits, these are related to the feasibility of the crop and therefore, can be used as predictors for successful cultivation. The aim of this study was to evaluate comparatively four valuable Agastache species (A. mexicana, A. scrophulariifolia, A. foeniculum) and one cultivar (A. rugosa ‘After Eight’), in order to identify the favourability for cultivation in local conditions (Romania). Based on the structural indicators of plant morphology (plant height, shoot number, leaf number, leaf length and width, inflorescence length, verticillaster number and flower number), registered over the span of two years, were explored relationships and similarities as well as their implications in previsioning the phenotypic potential. The results showed that studied species acclimatized successfully and all agronomic parameters studied increased in values in the second year. The average plant height in second year (2020) was 109.8 cm and average inflorescences length 9.6 cm. Stable positive correlations between inflorescence length with plant height and shoot number were observed, while differences among species became pronounced as plants become established, evidenced by clearer distinction in the second year. Phenotypic potential in the absence of inputs enables the feasibility assessment for medicinal plants introduced for cultivation in new regions.
... There is no reliable estimate for the number of medicinal plants that are endangered globally (Hamilton, 2004). However, a study of the total number of endangered species leads to the fact that at least 15,000 species of medicinal plants are highly endangered (Chen et al., 2016;Schippmann et al., 2006). The European Red List of Medicinal Plants lists 400 endangered species (Allen et al., 2014). ...
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The cultivation of medicinal plants is economically beneficial for medical and pharmaceutical purposes. These plants are a valuable source of secondary metabolites that can be converted into various drugs. However, these plants' widespread and commercial cultivation is difficult because most of the arable land is used to produce strategically essential crops. Therefore, harvesting from nature has the largest share in medicinal plants, which increases the pressure on rangelands and reduces biodiversity in rangelands. This study aims to study the effects of improper harvesting of medicinal plants on biodiversity and habitat protection. This study showed that increasing the harvest of medicinal plants from pastures reduces biodiversity, increases pressure on other plants, and destroys habitats. Decreasing biodiversity and habitat degradation also increase the risk of extinction of medicinal plants, other plants, and even insects and microorganisms.
... Concerning the total number of flowering plant species, although only 18,665, the intraspecific variability found in them makes it one of the highest in the world. Out of 18,665 plants, the classic systems of medicines like Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani make use of only about 3000 plants in various formulations (Schippmann et al., 2006). Although, there is no reliable figure for the total number of medicinal plants on Earth, and numbers and percentages for countries and regions vary greatly but estimates for the numbers of species used medicinally include: 35,000-70,000 or 53,000 worldwide (Schippmann et al., 2002); 10, 000-11,250 in China (Pei, 2002 ); 7500 in India (Shiva, 1996); 2237 in Mexico (Toledo, 1995); and 2572 traditionally by North American Indians (Moerman, 1998). ...
... The balance between wild and cultivated medicinal plants in a given community can also indicate important tendencies on various levels. Although cultivation seems to be the most logical choice, it is not always possible due to the ecological properties of certain plants [81]. On the other hand, wild plant harvesting itself can be valued as an identity-building or recreational practice with potential health benefits rooted in maintained contact with nature as well as sourcing useful wild plants [82][83][84]. ...
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Background While the hybridization of ecological knowledge has attracted substantial attention from researchers, the coexistence of local and allopathic medicinal traditions in literate societies widely exposed to centralized schooling and medical services has not yet been investigated. To this end, we studied the current and remembered local ethnomedical practices of Setos and neighboring Russians at the border with Estonia. Methods During 2018–2019, we carried out 62 semi-structured interviews in the Pechorsky District of Pskov Oblast, NW Russia. For cross-border comparison, we utilized the data from 71 interviews carried out at the same time among Setos in Estonia. The Jaccard Similarity Index and qualitative comparison were used to analyze the data. Results The study participants mentioned 819 uses of 112 taxa belonging to 54 families. More than two-thirds of the uses (565) were quoted by 36 Russian interviewees, while the remaining third (254) were quoted by 26 Seto interviewees, with the top 3 in both groups being Viburnum opulus, Rubus idaeus, and Plantago major. The Seto intraethnic similarity index was lower (0.43) than the interethnic similarity in Estonia (0.52) and comparable to the interethnic similarity in Russia (0.43). Setos in Russia and local Russians rely more on wild plants (86% and 80% of medicinal plants, respectively), while Setos in Estonia and Estonians show less preference to them (63% and 61%, respectively). Nevertheless, Setos tend to source wild plants available in their gardens (33% of plants for Setos in Estonia and 38% in Russia), while Russians prefer to source them in the wild (38%). Conclusions The preference of both groups in Russia for wild plants over cultivated and purchased plants was inspired by the overall plant literacy, access to nature, and one-to-many knowledge transfer favoring wild plants. Setos in Russia reported a narrower and more homogenous set of plants transferred vertically. However, due to atomization and the erosion of horizontal connections, there are singular plant uses among Setos that overlap with the local Russian set of medicinal plants and differ qualitatively from that of Setos in Estonia.
... Commonly, the economic value of MAPs is beyond statistics and foresight, and is often reported as an agricultural product or traded in informal markets. These plants can be either wild or cultivated [27][28][29][30][31][32]. ...
Article
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There is an increasing evidence for the significant value and potential of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) worldwide. Among other non-wood forest products, MAPs are considered a key element of sustainable forest management and economic development. As part of Mediterranean cultural heritage, these plants are a major driver of rural tourism, in many areas representing an important raw material for various bio-based industrial sectors. Besides their economic value, MAPs enhance social integration and maintain gender balance as harvesting and processing MAPs is clearly a female dominated task. Despite the prominent contribution of MAPs to local development, conservation of biodiversity and the development of the traditional Mediterranean food system, many challenges and knowledge gaps could potentially place the sector’s development at risk. The aim of this work is to examine the present situation of the MAPs sector in the most productive countries around the Mediterranean and to identify future challenges and priority actions to develop the MAPs sector in the region. To do so, a supply chain analysis was performed to identify the main stakeholders involved. Various experts from Croatia, France, Greece, Spain, and Tunisia participated in the SWOT analysis and the Delphi approach employed in this study. The results highlight the main challenges facing the sector in Mediterranean countries. Five groups of challenges are identified, related mainly to certification and labelling, life quality and wellbeing, market development, research development, and transforming and processing. To overcome these challenges, a set of actions is validated by the interviewed experts with the aim of improving marketing strategies and including various innovations related to political, legal, organisational, and institutional frameworks.
... The same authors stated that more than one-tenth of plant species are used in drugs and/or health products. Consequently, some authors argue that sustainable harvest is the most important conservation strategy for wild-harvested medicinal species, contributing to local economies and their long-term value to harvesters [4]. Medicinal plants are receiving research attention in many parts of the world. ...
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This research focuses on Kigelia africana in Benin where it is widely used in traditional medicine but receives little attention from researchers. In addition, this species has recently been recorded as threatened in the country. The aim was to gather ethnobotanical knowledge using a printed semi-structured questionnaire to collect data from herbal medicine traders, randomly selected, through a face-to-face discussion. The survey was carried out from January to March 2020. Among 36 questioned herbal traders, 36% of respondents obtained parts of K. africana by purchase in their own markets and by travelling far (3–10 km covered). The same proportion travel very far before buying parts (more than 10 km covered). None mentioned harvesting parts from wild populations. A high proportion of informants (63%) sold fruits and stem bark whereas a relatively low proportion of them (37%) sold fruits, stem bark, and leaves. The stem bark was recorded as most in demand followed by fruits. Respondents mostly confirmed the species scarcity. This species was used to treat 13 diseases and disorders. The stem bark was the most cited in the management of stomach infections and gynecological disorders. Fruits were mainly used in magic rituals and the treatment of stomach infections. Five preparations were recorded whither 54% of traders mentioned bark decoctions and 27% highlighted infusion of fruits in water. Overall, Kigelia africana is an important plant in Beninese ethnomedicine and the harvest and trade of its different parts represent major threats. Therefore, urgent conservation tools and actions are needed. Keywords: Kigelia africana; ethnobotanical knowledge; Benin; herbal medicine traders; infections
... Due to the constant need for and uniform supply of medicinal plants as well as the destruction of natural habitats, one of the effective strategies is to increase the number of medicinal species entering the crop system (Lubbe and Verpoorte 2011). The production of medicinal plants, in addition to their economic value, helps in reducing the uncontrolled exploitation of nature (Schippmann et al. 2006). Therefore, the present study aimed to elucidate the effects of drought stress intensity (moderate and severe stress levels) and rewatering on physiological traits and photosynthetic pigments of two forest Satureja chemotypes of "carvacrol/thymol/p-cymene" (Darkesh chemotype) and "thymol/p-cymene/carvacrol" (Pono chemotype) under foliar application of selenium and silicon. ...
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Little is known about the potential role of selenium and silicon post drought in plants, and the physiological mechanisms involved are yet to be explored. Medicinal plant cultivation in existing crop systems is of great importance for sustainable production of active ingredients. The first step in this process is to grow the plants under natural field conditions. For this purpose, the effects of drought stress (moderate stress: 25 days without irrigation and severe stress: 40 days without irrigation) and rewatering on physiological traits and photosynthetic pigments of two forest Satureja chemotypes of “carvacrol/thymol/p-cymene” (Darkesh chemotype) and “thymol/p-cymene/carvacrol” (Pono chemotype) were assessed in two separate experiments under foliar application of two drought protectants: selenium (0, 5, and 20 mg/l) and silicon (0, 1, and 5 mM). The results showed that at least in one experiment, the proline content of Darkesh and Pono increased by 33.48 and 16.76% following water stress, respectively. A significant enhancement was observed in proline level only in the Darkesh chemotype by rewatering. In both chemotypes, the sugar content increased (by 11.59 and 27.41%) as water stress increased, respectively. On the other hand, by rewatering, a reduction in sugar content was observed only in the Pono chemotype. Ionic leakage increased in both chemotypes during the second experiment. Similar to sugar content, rewatering decreased ionic leakage only in the Pono chemotype. No clear separation was found in the response of forest savory chemotypes to foliar selenium and silicon application. However, selenium-treated plants reduced proline accumulation under drought stress. Based on the obtained results, forest savory as a drought-resistance valuable medicinal plant can be introduced into the crop system, especially in regions with low precipitation and scarce water sources.
Conference Paper
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Cultivation of medicinal plants is economically very useful for medical and pharmaceutical purposes. These plants are a valuable source of secondary metabolites that can be converted into various drugs. However, large-scale and commercial cultivation of these plants is difficult because most of the arable land is used to produce strategically necessary crops. Therefore, harvesting from nature has the largest share in the market of medicinal plants, which increases the pressure on pastures and reduces biodiversity in pastures. The purpose of this study is to study the effects of over-harvesting of medicinal plants on biodiversity and habitat protection. The results of this study generally showed that increasing the harvest of medicinal plants from pastures, reduces biodiversity, increases pressure on other plants and destroys habitats. Decreased biodiversity and habitat degradation also increase the risk of extinction not only of medicinal plants, but also of other plants and even insects and microorganisms.
Technical Report
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At first glance, changing social demands, such as the desire for more biodiversity and a more sustainable use of agricultural land, offer new opportunities for the organic cultivation of medicinal, cosmetic and spice plants. However, it is difficult to assess to what extent such potentials can actually be used by farmers and firms in Baden-Württemberg. On the one hand, only few data and studies on the status quo of medicinal and aromatic plant cultivation in Baden-Württemberg have been published. On the other hand, it is unclear which constraints exist for the further development of the organic medicinal and aromatic plant sector. This is the background for a recent status review in this report, which was carried out by the Department of Agricultural Markets at the University of Hohenheim from June 2021 to February 2022 funded by the Ministry of Rural Areas and Consumer Protection (MLR) Baden-Württemberg. The cooperation partners are the Centre for Organic Agriculture, University of Hohenheim, and the Netzwerk Kräuter Baden-Württemberg e.V. (Herb Network Baden-Württemberg).
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The trade in a wildlife species is driven by a unique combination of economic, cultural, and societal motivations, which fluctuate over time and space. Although the wildlife trade is vital for the livelihood of millions of people worldwide, it can bring serious consequences for the environment, economy, and human health when it is not well managed or regulated. In addition, loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, spread of invasive alien species, and zoonoses and other diseases can be connected to the wildlife trade in its illegal or unsustainable form. Here, we present some purposes and drivers of the trade, the actors and legislation involved, and some trends and patterns of one of the most relevant challenges in conservation.
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This book provides the first comprehensive examination of nontimber forest products (NTFPs) in the United States, illustrating their diverse importance, describing the people who harvest them, and outlining the steps that are being taken to ensure access to them. As the first extensive national overview of NTFP policy and management specific to the United States, it brings together research from numerous disciplines and analytical perspectives-such as economics, mycology, history, ecology, law, entomology, forestry, geography, and anthropology—in order to provide a cohesive picture of the current and potential role of NTFPs. The contributors review the state of scientific knowledge of NTFPs by offering a survey of commercial and noncommercial products, an overview of uses and users, and discussions of sustainable management issues associated with ecology, cultural traditions, forest policy, and commerce. They examine some of the major social, economic, and biological benefits of NTFPs, while also addressing the potential negative consequences of NTFP harvesting on forest ecosystems and on NTFP species populations. Within this wealth of information are rich accounts of NTFP use drawn from all parts of the American landscape—from the Pacific Northwest to the Caribbean. From honey production to a review of nontimber forest economies still active in the United States—such as the Ojibway "harvest of plants" recounted here—the book takes in the whole breadth of recent NTFP issues, including ecological concerns associated with the expansion of NTFP markets and NTFP tenure issues on federally managed lands. No other volume offers such a comprehensive overview of NTFPs in North America. By examining all aspects of these products, it contributes to the development of more sophisticated policy and management frameworks for not only ensuring their ongoing use but also protecting the future of our forests.
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The relationship between in situ and ex situ conservation of species has implications for local communities, public and private land owners, entire industries and, of course, wild species. Identifying the conservation benefits and costs of the different production systems for medicinal and aromatic plants (MAP) should help guide policies as to whether species conservation should take place in nature or the nursery, or both. In all countries, the trend is towards a greater demand for cultivated material. Standardized quality and quantity of production is the main rationale for bringing a species into cultivation. However, high input costs are a substantial limitation of cultivation as long as sufficient volumes of material can still be obtained at a lower price from wild harvest. For economic reasons, the majority of MAP species will therefore continue to be harvested wild. For them, the priority conservation option is sustainable harvest from wild populations. There are important social, economic, and ecological benefits from wild harvest. Wild harvesting of medicinal plants is a chance for the poorest members of society, particularly those who do not have access to farmland, to make at least some cash income. If collectors and collecting communities can be involved in the development of propagation and management methods, the likelihood of their having an interest in protecting the wild populations from over-exploitation will be greater. Small-scale cultivation with low economic inputs can be a response to declining local stocks, generating income and supplying regional markets. Besides poverty and the break-down of traditional controls, the major challenges for sustainable wild-collection include: lack of knowledge about sustainable harvest rates and practices, undefined land use rights and lack of legislative and policy guidance. Sustainable harvesting needs to be recognized as the most important conservation strategy for most wild-harvested species and their habitats, given their current and potential contributions to local economies and their greater value to harvesters over the long term. The basic idea is that non-destructive harvests and local benefits will maintain population, species and ecosystem diversity.
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