Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • Medicinal plant extinction 'a quiet disaster'

Key medicinal plants used for cancer, malaria and other remedies are being over-exploited — potentially putting the health of millions at risk.

The warning comes from international conservation group Plantlife this week. According to their report, almost one third of medicinal species could become extinct, with losses reported in China, India, Kenya, Nepal, Tanzania and Uganda.

Factors in this loss include commercial over-harvesting, pollution, competition from invasive species and habitat destruction.

The solution, says the report's author, Alan Hamilton, is to "provide local communities with incentives to protect these plants".

This approach has already proved successful in Uganda, where a sustainable supply of low-cost malaria treatments has been established, and China, which has created a community-run medicinal plant reserve. Ten such grass-roots projects are highlighted in the report.

"Improving health, earning an income and maintaining cultural traditions are important in motivating people to conserve medicinal plants and thus the habitats," Hamilton says.

Link to full article in New Scientist

Republish
We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.