Saving wild plants for food and medicine
Helping communities protect their plant resources
Faced with a choice about which plants we save from extinction first, which would we choose?
For many people direct utility value comes high on the list of criteria. However, if we take into account all those wild species used for food, medicine, timber, fuelwood, livestock grazing and a whole host of other minor uses, that still presents a vast array of species.
Antrema villager with medicinal plant
Ibity villagers selling peanuts
Antrema villager with wild harvest
In Madagascar, alongside the IUCN/SSC Madagascar Plant Specialist Group, we are preparing a consolidated checklist of medicinal and nutritional plants and Important Plant Areas (IPAs) of the island and are carrying out conservation assessments in line with IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. This baseline information will inform practical, on-the-ground conservation strategies.
Our pilot projects are underway in the Ibity inselberg region and in the coastal area of Antrema. In these regions, where rural communities are likely to suffer disproportionately with rapid climate change, livelihoods and species are conserved in tandem.
Given the deteriorating environmental and economic situation in Madagascar, plant conservation is an urgent priority within the country and this is widely recognised by the global botanic garden community. Missouri Botanical Garden has for example been working in Madagascar for over thirty years, undertaking taxonomic work and building up local capacity for plant taxonomy, red listing and conservation. BGCI is working closely with Missouri scientists on-the-ground in Madagascar.
Two pilot projects will be initiated in Uganda. One will be undertaken by the Nature Palace Botanical Garden located in Wakiso District near Kampala. The land surrounding the garden is mainly farmland but there are some good remnant patches of forest in the vicinity. The project will document knowledge on use of medicinal and food species and increase conservation efforts for those that are in decline.
The second pilot project will be carried out by Tooro Botanical Garden which is situated in Fort Portal at the foot of the Ruwenzori Mountains in west Uganda. BGCI, working with Makerere University, will support the documentation of the local medicinal plants, as well as developing community-based conservation for species under threat.
These projects form part of our Wild Plants for Food and Medicine programme, generously funded by SwedBio.