Wildlife & Biodiversity

Ensure ethical trade in wild plants, consumers urged

New report highlights how many wild plants used in everyday products are sourced without any consideration to supply sustainability

By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Wednesday 27 June 2018

Juniper, a wild plant mentioned in the report          Credit: Wikimedia CommonsA new report has urged consumers across the globe to ensure that wild plants are traded responsibly and ethically.

The report is the result of a study by TRAFFIC, the non-profit working globally on the trade of wild animals and plants in the context of both biodiversity and sustainable development. Titled Wild at Home: An overview of the harvest and trade in wild plant ingredients, it demonstrates how sustainable wild plant harvesting can contribute to wider wildlife conservation goals and why global industry must adapt.

Many consumer products in common use—ranging from herbal remedies, food, and drink to cosmetics, health supplements, and even furniture—derive from wild harvested plants. Yet, this fact is appreciated by very few consumers, the report says.

Of the roughly 30,000 plant species with documented medicinal or aromatic uses, approximately 3,000 are found in international trade, an estimated 60–90 per cent of them harvested from the wild—often with little consideration given to ensure the sustainability of supplies.

The report highlights a dozen wild plant products consumers and business should look out for in products they use, including liquorice, frankincense, gum arabic, juniper, pygeum, goldenseal, and shea butter.

“Millions of people rely on wild plant collection both for their healthcare and for their livelihoods—from rural rosehip harvesters in Serbia to baobab fruit collectors in Zimbabwe, and the wide benefits of this harvesting are reaped by consumers across the world,” said Anastasiya Timoshyna from TRAFFIC, a co-author of the report, in a press release.

“But the industry utilising wild plant ingredients and consumers are paying far too little attention to ensuring plants are being traded responsibly.”

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