> Conservation Efforts
> What Can You Do?
What Can You Do To Help
Conserve Medicinal Plants?
Be A Responsible Consumer
- Read labels carefully
before you purchase a product. A label tells you many things, including
whether the active ingredient is a standardized extract and whether
additives have been included. A label also may tell you whether the
product you're buying comes from wildcrafted plants or from cultivated
sources. Some plants such as yellow dock, sassafras and saw palmetto
occur in sufficient abundance that careful, sustainable wildcrafting
is not a concern. Others, like certain echinacea species, ginseng,
and goldenseal, face varying pressure from overcollecting for commercial
purposes. Decide when you feel comfortable supporting products from
wildcrafted rather than commercially grown sources.
- Learn where the medicinal
products you consume come from. Visit industry web pages to learn
more about their policies on conservation. Find out if and how they
compensate indigenous peoples for their plant knowledge. Such compensation
and respect for native knowledge is particularly important when new
drugs are developed from information about plants that historically
have been safeguarded by native peoples.
- Support products whose
manufacturers demonstrate commitment to the sustainability of wild
- Get to know the medicinal
plants you use most frequently. Read about them in your local library.
If these plants are native to your area, walk through the woods or
other open spaces to find and identify them. Note how they grow in
the wild. Note the plants they grow with. Sketch or photograph them
so that you have a record of their habitat.
- Research a source of
cultivated plants, and create a medicinal plant garden in your backyard,
at a local school, or at a public location.
- Think globally, and act
locally, first by joining a national plant conservation group such
as United Plant Savers or The Nature Conservancy, and then by putting
your ideals to work in your local garden club, native plant society,
or master gardener program.
- Work to conserve habitat
for native medicinal plants. One way to do this is by introducing
community leaders and elected officials to the benefits of medicinal
plants, as well as the importance of conserving them. The destruction
of native habitat and the species it protects is the single most significant
contributor to the loss of biodiversity worldwide.
- Help monitor wild populations
of medicinal plants to determine their status. Contact the Natural
Heritage Program in your state to identify species that need monitoring.
Natural Heritage Programs usually operate through local governments
or universities. For more information visit www.natureserve.org.
Your local university biology program also may be able to provide
- Patronize local nurseries
and growers. If a behind-the-scenes tour becomes available, take advantage
of it. Ask about the source of their nursery stock. Encourage their
support of local conservation efforts.
- Share what you know about
plants with others, especially young children. Scout troops, 4H clubs,
school groups, and Future Farmers of America are organizations where
you can have an impact on the future. Write articles for local magazines
and newspapers about local medicinal plants, their cultural history
and what they contribute to the community.
- Keep asking questions
and seeking answers.
- Volunteer to help with
the projects of the Medicinal Plant Working
and questions about the website should be directed to the webmaster.
Last Updated: 4/4/02