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Success of traditional Chinese medicine environmental governance project celebrated in China

Weighing harvested Polygonatum 'rhizoma polygonati' © TRAFFICBeijing, China, 17th July 2015 — Participants in an innovative project promoting sustainable use of wild medicinal plants in China met this week to celebrate their success and look forwards to the future as the 30-month project comes to an end. The FairWild Standard has been used as the sustainability framework for the initiative.

With funding from the European Union, the project Engaging China’s private sector in sustainable management of medicinal plants (EGP MAPs) has helped establish sustainable supply chains for medicinal plants ingredients in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) industry and contributed towards improved rural livelihoods and environmental governance in Hunan and Zhejiang Provinces. More than 1,100 individual wild-collectors and farmers have been supported through it.

Supported by leading TCM manufactures and traders, EGP MAPs has brought together stakeholders within the industry, including companies, their suppliers (farmers and wild-collectors), conservation NGOs, industry associations and academia as well as government officials.

Key to achieving wild plant sustainability was following the FairWild Standard’s best-practices for wild harvesting and equitable trade in plants. The Standard’s eleven principles provide a comprehensive framework for tackling the complex issues involved in sustainable wild collection.

The Standard was used as a framework for both the Corporate Social Responsibilty aspects of the project, and also to guide a policy study on the TCM sector. The latter identified a total of 142 policies, laws and standards relevant to the collection, management and use of medicinal plant resources in China. These were analysed to identify potential areas for strengthening the laws and policies.

“The FairWild Standard is a valuable reference for TCM management agencies to guide sustainable development work as well as an important tool for formulating TCM resource assessment plans and industry standards,” said Zhao Runhuai, Chief Technical Director of Sinopharm, the largest State-owned TCM company in China.

The participating TCM companies and NGOs also discussed the sustainability of the project. Although the EGP funded project comes to a conclusion, the conservation work on medicinal plant resources is in the ascendant.

“We can be proud of what EGP MAPs has achieved to date, and this project has laid a solid foundation such that we can look forward to a bright future for wild-plant harvesting within China’s TCM industry,” said Zhou Fei, Head of TRAFFIC’s China Office.

For full information on the event, including major successes and outputs of the project, see the original article: