Appendix A

Plant Conservation Alliance
Medicinal Plant Working Group
Evolving Strategy

Recognizing that commercial demands may cause overharvesting from the wild, the Medicinal Plants Working Group, which includes representatives from industry, government, academia, Tribes, and environmental organizations, aims to create a framework for discussion and action on behalf of medicinal plants.  The group's primary focus is to facilitate action on behalf of species of particular conservation concern as a means to balance biological and commercial needs and, in the long term, minimize regulatory intervention.  Within that framework, there may also be a need to provide public education on Tribal interests and policies as these intersect with the conservation of plants.  The Working Group intends to raise awareness of native medicinal plant issues and needs among partner agencies and cooperating organizations to:

Generate and Share Information Regarding Species of Medicinal and Economic Importance and Conservation Concern

Promote Appropriate Conservation Measures for Native Medicinal Plants

Promote Sustainable Production of Native Medicinal Plant Products

Increase Participation in Native Medicinal Plant Conservation

The number of groups interested in native medicinal plants is growing. Participants ranging from consumers to policy makers, farmers, and school children  that could be brought into the discussion through concerted outreach and education.  The goal is to 1) expand awareness of native medicinal plant needs among those who could assist with their conservation, and 2) ensure that future generations grow into fuller awareness of the value of these plants.

Encourage Active Participation by Tribes and Other Holders of Traditional Ecological Knowledge Pertaining to Native Medicinal Plants

Ethnobotany is multi-disciplinary. To discover the practical potential of native plants not only requires knowledge of plants, but an understanding and sensitivity to the dynamics of how cultures work. By observing the intimate and harmonious relationship of indigenous cultures to their environment, their accumulated knowledge of the biodynamics of the natural world, and their traditions of stewardship that sustain fragile ecological balance, scientists, ethnobotanists, and others can gain insight into the management of land reserves, plant communities, and the biodiversity they sustain, so as to help maintain a balanced ecosystem for future generations.

Generate Financial Support for Native Medicinal Plant Conservation Projects

The development of reliable, sustainable financial support is the lynchpin upon which the work of the Medicinal Plant Working Group depends.  Without such financing, projects fall back on the time and energy of volunteers for completion, a condition that would make it difficult to fulfill the range of activities critical to the mission of the group.  Funding generated to support projects would be made available for cross-cutting efforts bringing together researchers, educators, businesses and others in support of plant conservation.

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Last Updated: 4/30/02