The Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation, a Cape Town based non-governmental organisation, jointly with herbalists and other partners launched Herbanisation – an open access, medicinal street garden project in 2012. The underlying idea is to create livelihood options for local Rasta and Khoi herbalists by upgrading degraded streets capes in economically marginalised areas marked by high unemployment and crime rates in Cape Town. At the same time the project aims to reconnect the community members with medicinal plants and the traditional knowledge around the use of these plants as well as traditional healers. Herbanisation has proven to be a successful approach for conservation, livelihood creation and connecting multiple stakeholders to take action to improve their health and well-being. Started as a pilot project with 250 medicinal plants, Herbanisation has expanded and covers currently 1.700 plants in Seawinds and will most probably reach 4,500 by mid 2015.
An estimated 60,000 Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) species are used globally for their medicinal properties alone. Wild harvest and trade provides a critical source of income, particularly for the rural poor in developing countries. It underpins production of numerous traditional medicines, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food and other products. Annual international trade in pharmaceutical plants alone averages half a million tonnes, and was valued at over $2 billion in 2012, with nearly half exported from Asia. Wild plants make a significant contribution to Asian economies. As many as one-fifth of all plant species are threatened with extinction, with MAP populations around the world declining due to over-harvest. This is of particular concern for livelihoods and businesses in developing countries, where reliance on MAPs is high, human populations and environmental pressures are increasing, and enforcement of environmental controls is low.
In response to this global problem, TRAFFIC – a key partner of the Biodiversity and Community Health (BaCH) Initiative – along with WWF, IUCN, the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) and others developed the FairWild Standard. It provides guidance on sustainable and equitable sourcing of wild plant products. The Standard and guidance tools are now being used by industry to improve product-sourcing guidelines, by governments to design harvest and trade controls, by communities in their management systems, and by intergovernmental agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Read more about ways on how the FairWild Standard can be used for sustainable conservation of medicinal plants under threat in a recent article by the Deutsche Welle here
Learn more about TRAFFIC’s work on promoting the use of the FairWild Standard here
The Biodiversity and Community Health (BaCH) Initiative’s partners just facilitated a successful experience exchange enabling Dutch farmers and veterinarians to visit the Institute of Ayurvedic and Integrated Medicine (I-AIM) in Bangalore, India. This exchange is part of a series of activities to assist the Dutch livestock sector to reduce antibiotic use by 70% till the end of this year. Watch the short clip and find out more about this main steps towards sustainable dairy products without antibiotics and its impact on our health and animals here.
Learn more about the exchange here. For further information on the project see here.
The Biodiversity and Community Health (BaCH) Initiative promotes the sustainable management of biological resources, namely medicinal plants to create sources of sustainable livelihoods and impact health needs at the local level. A recent article in the Times of India highlights how the absence of specific laws leads to diminishing resources and knowledge. Read the article here
UNU Our World’s most recent issue covers an insightful article on ethnobiological drug discovery in Latin America and how discussions around traditional knowledge and medicinal plants emerged. Learn more about the essential role traditional knowledge on the use of medicinal plants plays and why there is a need to preserve these precious sources for our wellbeing here
Get a glimpse of the Foundation for the Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions’ (FRLHT) pioneering work in India. Darshan Shankar, co-founder of FRLHT, takes you on a short tour through the institute and gives an insightful introduction to the Indian health traditions, their challenges in the contemporary setting and their dialogue with modern science.