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ISSC-MAP merges with FairWild Foundation

Horses are used to carry the harvested Wild Garlic collected at the implementation project in Bosnia & Herzegovina © Sladjana Bundalo  

Implementation of the International Standard for Sustainable Wild Collection of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (ISSC-MAP) received a major boost in October 2008 with the agreement to combine ISSC-MAP with the “fair trade” standard developed by the FairWild Foundation. The new FairWild Standard provides a unified modular system of both standards’ requirements for assessing harvests of wild plants against ecological, social and economic requirements. Use of the FairWild Standard will support efforts to ensure plants are harvested and traded in a way that maintains healthy populations in the wild and benefits rural producers.

The agreement to join ISSC-MAP with FairWild Foundation was formalized during the IUCN World Conservation Congress (October 2008) with the signing of an agreement with the FairWild Foundation by representatives of ISSC-MAP’s four founding institutions: the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), IUCN, WWF Germany, and TRAFFIC. The application and further evolution of the combined FairWild Standard will be overseen by the FairWild Foundation, with IUCN, WWF and TRAFFIC each having initial representation on the Foundation’s governing and technical bodies, alongside representatives from the organizations involved in FairWild Foundation’s founding: SIPPO (Swiss Import Promotion Prog ramme), Forum Essenzia e.V and IMO (Institute for Market Ecology).

A third party certification system is being implemented that allows communities and businesses to confirm and communicate to the public that their harvesting practices meet the FairWild sustainability and social criteria. Several enterprises are on the way to meet these criteria, e.g. in Europe, Asia, and South America, with FairWild certified herbal products expected to begin to appear in the European and North American markets by 2010.

It is hoped that use of the FairWild Standard will extend beyond certification, and include application of ISSC-MAP criteria by local resource managers in designing harvest strategies, government agencies designing harvest and trade controls, and businesses and industry associations developing voluntary codes of practice.

A single standard, a growing portfolio of projects

The bringing together of the ISSC-MAP and fair trade standards has also provided the opportunity to forge links between the various pilot projects already under way to assess their applicability under different local conditions, and to develop and refine associated guidance documents and training tools.

With financial support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), TRAFFIC, WWF, IUCN and others are implementing seven projects under the joint initiative “Saving Plants that Save Lives and Livelihoods”. Projects focused on applying ISSC-MAP are under way in Brazil (with additional support from the IUCN Livelihoods and Landscapes Strategy), Cambodia, India, Lesotho, Nepal and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Funding has also been secured from the EU-China Biodiversity Programme to undertake similar work in China.

Projects focused on applying FairWild’s “fair trade” standard are under way in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, France, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, and Uzbekistan. More detailed information about selected implementation projects is provided on page 55.

Progress on FairWild implementation projects

Bosnia and Herzegovina
In south-eastern Europe, a major source of medicinal and aromatic plants collected in Europe, a FairWild implementation project is being finalized in Vlasenica Region in the eastern part of Republica Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovina). A management plan for Wild Garlic Allium ursinum is being developed in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. Elmar d.o.o.—a partner collecting company—supports FairWild implementation and continuous species monitoring.

An implementation project in Silves Municipality/Saraca Island (State of Amazonia) involves a local communitybased organization AVIVE, which collects and processes wild medicinal ingredients. The current implementation project focuses on five species: Andiroba Carapa guianensis and Andirobinha Carapa procera (used to treat fever, worms, bacterial infections, rheumatism and tumours); Buriti Palm Mauritia flexuosa (used to produce sun creams and skin protection lotions); Puxuri Licaria puchury (used to treat stomach disorders, insomnia and rheumatism); and Preciosa Aniba canellila (an essential oil appreciated for its scent). A preliminary agreement has been signed with a buyer company in Brazil, which is interested in the procurement of FairWild products. The project is developing mechanisms for communitybased resource management and aims to work with responsible companies, government agencies and academic experts to establish a model for the sustainable use of medicinal plants that can be replicated throughout Amazonia.

Species of Schisandra sphenanthera (used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as an astringent tonic for lungs and kidneys, and in dietary supplements such as energy drinks), and Gastrodia elata (used for medicines treating epilepsy, tetanus, liver disorders and arthritis), are at the core of an implementation project in Upper Yangtse Ecoregion, in the frame of a larger European Union-funded programme. Through capacity-building of stakeholders involved in medicinal plant harvesting and trade, the project aims to increase sensitivity towards the needs of habitat conservation and management planning and create the basis of sustainable sourcing schemes for medicinal plant species in the region. Market interest for FairWild products is fuelled by the upcoming participation in Green Expo 2009, targeted at “green” Japanese consumers.

Liquorice Glycyrrhiza glabra collected near Karaschida River, Kazakh Steppe eco-region (south-eastern Kazakhstan) has met the minimum criteria for FairWild certification. Although Liquorice is abundant at the collection site, it has declined as a result of overharvest in many other areas. Formalization of sustainable wild collection practices is needed urgently. Recommendations derived from the first external audit visits include the development of a risk assessment, a more formalized resource assessment and the development of a local management plan.

The FairWild Standard is being applied to Pelargonium sidoides. This plant is tradition ally used in Lesotho and South Africa to treat colic, diarrhoea, stomach disorders, and dysentery, and is increasingly in demand for the preparation of medicine in Europe, in particular Germany. Based on the resource assessment and the regeneration study, it is clear that sustainable harvesting methods can be developed. This may include setting harvesting quotas and the development of an effective system of harvest control.

Link to the latest news about FairWild development: www.fairwild.org

Contact: Britta Pätzold or Susanne Honnef FairWild Foundation Secretariat c/o WWF Germany and TRAFFIC Rebstöcker Str. 55 Frankfurt a.M., Germany, D–60326

Anastasiya Timoshyna Medicinal Plants Officer, TRAFFIC Europe, Central Eastern Project Office

The above article originally appeared in the TRAFFIC Bulletin, Vol.22(2) (June 2009) (PDF, 2.5 MB)