Project profile: Sustainable Wild Collection
International Standard for Sustainable Wild Collection of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (ISSC-MAP)
Over 50,000 plant species are used in traditional and modern medicine worldwide. Many are important in preventive health care or are used by the tea, herb, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, perfume and food industries. The majority are collected in the wild. However, it is estimated that up to 15,000 medicinal plant species are endangered, also through unsustainable harvesting.
As many medicinal plants are costly to take into cultivation and because growing them is frequently difficult or commercially non-viable, most demand will continue to be met from wild collection. In developing countries especially, wild collection is an important rural income source. It can also give people an incentive to safeguard medicinal plants as a resource and ensure their sustainable use.
As dwindling wild stocks of medicinal plants also mean a shortage of resources needed for production, industry, industry associations, certification organisations, resource managers, and collectors need a way to assess and assure the sustainability of wild collection. Consumers also want assurance that products are made sustainably to environmental and social criteria.
In response to these needs, the International Standard for Sustainable Wild Collection of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (ISSC-MAP) was developed in broad consultation with many interest groups. ISSC-MAP, with its principles, criteria and indicators, is an indispensable tool for assessing natural stocks and ensuring sustainability in collection and management. The standard focuses on environmental aspects of good collection practice, notably including effective but affordable methods of resource assessment to determine sustainable harvesting quantities. The standard also includes social and economic factors.
ISSC-MAP Version 1.0 was published in February 2007. Its applicability was then tested in a range of projects reflecting the diversity of geographical, environmental and social contexts encountered in the collection and use of medicinal plants.
BfN and ISSC-MAP
The development of ISSC-MAP began in 2004 as a joint initiative of BfN, the IUCN Medicinal Plant Specialist Group, WWF Germany and TRAFFIC. This core group was supplemented by industry associations, companies, certification organisations and NGOs to form an international steering group. In the next step, ISSC-MAP was combined in 2008 with the FairWild Standard developed by the FairWild Foundation in Switzerland. Today, the FairWild Foundation is responsible for the ongoing development and implementation of ISSC-MAP, and ISSC-MAP became an integral part of the new FairWild Standard Version 2.0. Almost all members of the former ISSC-MAP Steering Group are on the FairWild Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Combining ISSC-MAP and FairWild created a comprehensive, pioneering standard for the sustainability of wild collection, which covers both environmental and fair trade needs in line with CBD requirements. The FairWild label provides a means of certifying sustainable collection operations and labelling products accordingly.
Implementation of ISSC-MAP and certification were promoted worldwide through six pilot projects carried out under two R&D projects: CBD in der Anwendung: Umsetzung des Internationalen Standards für die nachhaltige Wildsammlung von Heil- und Aromapflanzen – Pilotphase A (CBD in Practice: Implementing ISSC-MAP – Pilot Phase A), and Label und Lobby für den ISSC-MAP: Einführung des Geschäftsmodells (A Label and Lobby for ISSC-MAP: Introducing the Business Model), by WWF Germany and Frankfurt University (April 2007 – June 2009).
Medicinal Plant Specialist Group (Eds.) (2007): International Standard for Sustainable Wild Collection of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (ISSC-MAP). – 36 p., Bundesamt für Naturschutz, Bonn. – BfN-Skripten 195.
Kathe, W., Pätzold, B., Leaman, D., Timoshyna, A., Newton, D., Khou, E., Kinhal, G., Sapkota, I.B., Pasha, M.K.S., Ndam, N., Melisch, R., Bundalo, S., Honnef, S., Osborn, T., Buitrón, X. & Liu, X. 2010): Wild for a cure. Ground-truthing a standard for sustainable management of wild plants in the field. – vi+44 pp., TRAFFIC International, Cambridge.
Project management at BfN
Section II 1.2 Plant Conservation
Contact: Dr. Uwe Schippmann