Why we should all care about wild plants
#FairWildWeek 2019 kicks off today — the time of year where we stand up and shout loud about the often-ignored role wild plants play in our daily lives the world over.
2019 has been an exciting year so far in terms of mobilising positive environmental action. And with issues such as the climate and poaching crises hitting the headlines in a big way, it’s essential the issue of wild plant collection isn’t left behind.
That wild plant collection and trade is an important issue often comes as a surprise, particularly because wildlife conservation is more heavily associated with charismatic animals such as elephants, rhinos, and tigers. But without healthy wild plant populations, life on Earth would look very different indeed.
Wild plant ingredients are found in almost every home, kitchen, and bathroom cupboard. The wild plants in what we buy are one of the most powerful links we have to the natural world.
That herbal tea you drink in the morning likely contains wild liquorice, rose, nettle, or goldenseal. Your makeup, moisturiser, or hand cream will often use wild shea butter, with baobab powder, frankincense, or dragon’s blood just three of hundreds of other potential wild plant additions. The World Health Organization estimates up to 85% of the world's population relies on herbal medicines to meet its health needs.
This year, we want to show you why we should ALL care about wild plants.
Caring about wild plants shows you care about people
Behind every wild plant ingredient you consume is the story of the people who collect it.
Obviously wild plants aren’t cultivated, they’re harvested from some of the world’s last remaining wild landscapes, often by communities with irreplaceable traditional knowledge that’s been passed down for generations.
Whether in Africa, Asia, Europe, or the Americas, income from wild plant collection supports some of the world’s most impoverished communities. Harvesting is usually done in majority by women, and often from ethnic minority or indigenous backgrounds.
At FairWild’s core is the protection of these collectors. We ensure they’re paid fairly, have safe working conditions, and can access international markets to sell what they sustainably collect. The FairWild Premium Fund is an additional way of distributing a share of profits back into the community. In Spain, Georgia, and Kazakhstan for example, over US$60,000 has already been provided to rural collector communities from buyers of FairWild-certified liquorice to support educational, health, and social development projects.
By caring about wild plants, and taking steps to only buy products with ethically and sustainably sourced wild plant ingredients, you’re giving back to the communities who provide you with the beautiful wild plant products you buy every week.
Caring about wild plants shows you care about the future of the planet
Acting to secure the future of wild plants isn’t a hobby, or a lifestyle choice — it shows you care not just about the protection of nature, but also that you care about the survival of your own species!
There are roughly 30,000 plant species with medicinal or aromatic uses, with up to 90% of those in trade being wild collected. Of the 7% that have been assessed by the IUCN Red List™, 1 in 5 are threatened with extinction, with over-exploitation a contributing factor.
The trade is growing, and with increasing human populations and the climate crisis reaching fever pitch, the need for change has never been more urgent.
The good news – we know how to protect wild plants, and in the places where FairWild is operating, it’s working. Another major plus is that FairWild’s protection for wild plants has a knock-on effect to other plant and animal species living in the same habitat.
In the Upper Yangzte region of China for example, sustainable collection of Schisandra berries is helping preserve one of the most important sites for the Giant Panda. In India’s Western Ghats, FairWild-certified sustainable collection of bibhitaki and haritaki fruit is preserving the nesting sites for the iconic Great Hornbill.
Caring about wild plants shows you care about the future of our planet’s ecosystems, and the millions of species they support, including our own.
FairWild week brings us together to celebrate wild plants and actions to protect them
As a consumer you have the power to change the market. Ask the brands you buy from what wild ingredients they use, where they’re from, and the protections they use to protect the species and the collectors involved. Check out our website to find out how you can be part of the solution.
Are you a business trading in wild plant ingredients? Take a step towards empowering communities, committing to sustainable supply chains, and showing your customers you care about the future of wild plants. Get in touch with us to find out how you can start your journey.
Join us this #FairWildWeek. Take action for wild plants and the people who collect them.