Other nature conservation
The Traditional&Wild project
Central Europe has been an important region for the sourcing of wild plants for medicinal, aromatic and culinary use since ancient times. Currently, approximately 2000 wild plant species are traded commercially, of which 60-70% are native to Central Europe. Up to 90% of these species are still collected from the wild. From the middle of the 20th century to the present day, traditional knowledge concerning the properties and use of many of these wild plants has been in decline due to urbanization, changes in land ownership, and ever changing lifestyle choices. Nowadays, wild plant collection is sometimes performed in an unsustainable manner, leading to the further decline of wild harvesting as an important source of employment and income for vulnerable groups in the long-term.
WWF Hungary and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, together with eight organizations from Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Poland implemented the project „Traditional and Wild: Promoting traditional collection and use of wild plants to reduce social and economic disparities in Central Europe” on 1 May 2011. Project ran for three years, until May 2014. The project was implemented through the CENTRAL EUROPE Programme of the European Union and co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The project aimed to protect the cultural heritage of collecting and processing useful wild plants, and to foster the sustainable use of this traditional knowledge and expertise among vulnerable groups; particularly the ethnic Roma populations, the elderly, and women, in rural parts of Central Europe.
WWF Hungary and TRAFFIC was engaged in the project to promote the sustainability of wild harvesting and trade through implementation of the FairWild Standard, guidance for sustainable wild plant management and collection operations world-wide, which TRAFFIC helped develop and further promotes through its partnership with the FairWild Foundation.
The project contributed to ensuring the sustainable harvesting and use of plants collected from the wild in the pilot areas through implementation of FairWild Standard principles. Moreover, the project helped foster the sustainable use of traditional knowledge and expertise among vulnerable groups in rural parts of Central Europe via a wide range of transnational tools and strategies developed within the project framework.
In 2011, TRAFFIC and WWF Hungary, together with partners, finalized a set of sustainability principles for wild plant collection (drawn from the FairWild Standard). The principles were further translated into national languages and used by partners while training local communities. These principles can be applied in different resource management contexts, and are supported by the detailed list of criteria and indicators included in the FairWild Standard, which are recommended for adherence and implementation in all wild-collection situations.
Those principles were also included in the „Training materials on plant collection and utilization, building entrepreneurial skills, and providing employment opportunities in Central Europe”, compiled by WWF Hungary and TRAFFIC in 2012. Included within these materials is a training course on aspects of sustainable wild plant collection and FairWild that was particularly developed by TRAFFIC.
In 2013, training courses were delivered to 1325 people in six project target areas between April and August 2013. Of these, 82 people were trained in Hungary (Felső-Kiskunság and Ormánság regions), 90 in Poland (Podkarpackie province), 965 in the Czech Republic (South Moravia) and 188 in Slovenia (Kozjansko and Dravinjsko area, and Northern Primorska area). Among the people trained in the pilot areas, 200 were specifically trained in sustainable wild plant collection and processing practices.
The training courses demonstrated the importance of plants collected from the wild in Central Europe and helped trainees to improve sustainable wild plant harvesting and processing techniques. The training also built up their entrepreneurial and marketing skills required for improving their employment opportunities and thus increasing the opportunity for earning potential additional income.
Another outstanding project output developed by TRAFFIC and WWF Hungary is an online interactive ‘Traditional and wild’ toolbox created to showcase the use of a variety of wild plant species used for traditional medicine and for food in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Poland and beyond.
The toolbox guides visitors on a journey through the wonderful world of wild plants, challenging them to test their knowledge about the plants themselves and traditional harvesting practices. The information contained can be used in a variety of contexts, for training purposes and in workshops to enrich knowledge about wild plants.
The heart of the toolbox is a Resource section, intended for use by users of wild harvested plants, companies seeking information about sustainable harvesting and trade, government bodies charged with regulating such trade and those looking for a better understanding of the sector.
Also included is an overview of worldwide projects incorporating use of the FairWild Standard including those on FairWild-certified Frankincense (Commiphora and Boswellia species) from Kenya and Liquorice root Glycyrrhiza uralensis from Kazakhstan. An associated online cartoon has also been launched to explain and promote the use of the FairWild Standard.
Traditional and wild website: www.traditionalandwild.eu
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/traditionalandwild.EU