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Sustainable Use of Wild Plant Resources

Ensuring the sustainable use of wild plant resources is of key importance to conservation as unsustainable collection is often a key driver in the extinction of economically valuable species.

Current Status

  • China is a signatory to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna) and has enacted laws to prevent the illegal trade in endangered plants. Inspection stations have been established at major ports such as Shenzen and Dalian to enforce these laws.
  • Over 11,000 species are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Of the 600 plant species that are regularly used, sustainable cultivation systems have been developed for 200 species, thereby preventing their unsustainable harvesting from the wild.
  • China’s first organic and ‘green’ product certification schemes have been introduced and are being actively promoted. This currently includes over 12,868 Chinese products which have been certified as ‘green’.
  • Forest certification schemes, which officially verify the ‘green’ credentials of sustainably sourced timber, are under development.
  • Several volumes of the China ethno-medicine encyclopaedia have been published, which officially catalogues the uses and preparation methods of a wide range of medicinal plants.

Taxus chinensis cultivation Center

Actions Planned

  • Active state promotion of a wide range of sustainable agricultural practices, including organic growing.
  • Building ecological criteria into new development projects, including the construction of 10,000 new ‘eco-villages’.
  • Commissioning a study into the scale of the international trade in wild Chinese plants.
  • Initiating an aggressive crack down on illegal logging and over-exploitation of medicinal plants and timber.
  • Strengthening support for the nascent development of forest certification schemes.
  • Actively promoting the cultivation of useful wild plant species, to relieve the pressure of harvesting on wild plant populations, including close monitoring of the populations of plant resources in the wild.
  • Systematically collecting and documenting traditional knowledge, particularly that of minority ethnic groups, as part of a broader effort to preserve traditional cultures.