Wild plants threatened by collection for sale could be grown commercially providing new income streams, report finds

Mar 15, 2012
Wild plants threatened by collection for sale could be grown commercially providing new income streams, report finds
Sophie measuring a leaf 

Exotic palm leaves in your Mother’s Day bouquet may have come from forests in Belize or Guatemala, central America. Export for the flower arranging industry threatens the survival of some of these palms in the wild

There has been increasing interest in the cultivation of harvested plant species, aiming to reduce the use of wild populations and to improve human livelihoods. For this change to be possible, people need to have the knowledge to be able grow the plants themselves. In 2006 Belize Botanic Garden trained local farmers as part of a UK Darwin Initiative Project to cultivate xaté, an economically important palm species, which is at risk in the wild.

Bangor University and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, recently investigated whether the training had in fact had a beneficial effect. The research, reported in PLoS ONE, found that training increased technical knowledge about cultivating xaté and did result in people cultivating this over-harvested species.

Wild plants threatened by collection for sale could be grown commercially providing new income streams, report finds
Xaté Leaf

The lead author of the study, Sophie Williams, of Bangor University said: “xaté palm leaves are exported to Europe and the USA for flower arrangements and is a multi-million dollar industry. People in central America can cultivate this species so not all the market supply needs to come from the wild”.

Dr. Colin Clubbe of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and another author on the study goes on to explain “the training programme had influenced behaviour by providing the skills needed to grow a new species but also it increased peoples belief in their ability to grow a new species. This is critical for people to actually cultivate this important plant.The results from this study will help design training programmes for encouraging cultivation of over-harvested species.

The researchers call for future training programmes to consider providing resources to help people establish cultivation, such as seeds or young plants, in addition to providing technical skills needed to cultivate over-harvested species.

Explore further: Cat dentals fill you with dread?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

UK botanists bank 10% of world's plant species

Oct 15, 2009

Botanists at Britain's Kew Gardens have collected seeds from 10 percent of the world's wild plants, their first goal in a long-term project to protect all endangered species, they said Thursday.

Wild plants are good for pollinators

Oct 06, 2011

A new study has shown that encouraging strips of wild plants at the edges of fields is important for supporting bees and other important pollinators.

Chinese primrose rediscovered

May 05, 2011

A botanist at one of Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partners, the Kunming Institute of Botany, has rediscovered two populations of a primrose which was thought to be extinct in the wild.

Half of species found by 'great plant hunters'

Feb 02, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- With an estimated 15-30% of the world’s flowering plants yet to be discovered, finding and recording new plant species is vital to our understanding of global biodiversity.

35,000 new species 'sitting in cupboards'

Dec 07, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Of 70,000 species of flowering plants yet to be described by scientists, more than half may already have been collected but are lying unknown and unrecognised in collections around the world, ...

Recommended for you

Cat dentals fill you with dread?

44 minutes ago

A survey published this year found that over 50% of final year veterinary students in the UK do not feel confident either in discussing orodental problems with clients or in performing a detailed examination of the oral cavity ...

User comments : 0