Purpose: Meet with local botanists, Garden Club and Native Plant Society members, USFWS & Forest Service representatives, and other interested groups to determine feasibility of the MPWG Conservation Committee partnering with volunteers from local Garden Club chapters to carry out a project to provide data to support medicinal plant conservation.
Background: The Conservation Committee of the Medicinal Plant Working Group is developing a list of medicinal plants of concern around which to focus projects. The Committee is interested in developing projects that would determine: 1) frequency and abundance of specific medicinal plants and 2) their sustainability in relation to harvest trials. In the absence of available funds, the committee is investigating the feasibility of working with volunteers through a project that might serve as a template for similar projects in other parts of the country. Discussions among Committee members as well as others who attended the Asheville meeting suggested a need for the following elements:
In defining the project, participants also had the opportunity to see first hand the relationship between medicinal plants growing in the wild on local Forest Service land and medicinals being cultivated organically for processing and sale. GAIA Herbs provided a tour of its farming operation and processing plant. This was followed by a hike to identify wild medicinal plants and see the habitat in which they grow.
Issues: Participants shared a range of information and concerns pertaining to the status of medicinal plants on public lands in western North Carolina.
Results: The group agreed to focus its efforts on determining how much black cohosh and bloodroot can be harvested sustainably from a population. Discussion of the ramps sustainability study carried out in Great Smoky Mountains National Park led to a decision to outline:
It was also decided that: