The sustainability of trade in wild plants - A data-integration approach tested on critically endangered Nardostachys jatamansi

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While the demand for many products from wild-harvested plants is growing rapidly, the sustainability of the associated plant trade remains poorly understood and understudied. We integrate ecological and trade data to advance sustainability assessments, using the critically endangered Nardostachys jatamansi in Nepal to exemplify the approach and illustrate the conservation policy gains. Through spatial distribution modeling and structured interviews with traders, wholesalers, and processors, we upscale district-level trade data to provincial and national levels and compare traded amounts to three sustainable harvest scenarios derived from stock and yield data in published inventories and population ecology studies. We find increased trade levels and unsustainable harvesting focused in specific subnational geographical locations. Data reported in government records and to CITES did not reflect estimated trade levels and could not be used to assess sustainability. Our results suggest that changing harvesting practices to promote regeneration would allow country-wide higher levels of sustainable harvests, simultaneously promoting species conservation and continued trade of substantial economic importance to harvesters and downstream actors in the production network. The approach can be applied to other plant species, with indication that quick and low-cost proxies to species distribution modeling may provide acceptable sustainability estimates at aggregated spatial levels.
TidsskriftPNAS Nexus
Udgave nummer11
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - 2023

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
The study was financed by the Research Committee for Development Research (FFU) of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Grants Nos. 90906 and 13-07KU, the UK Government through the Darwin Initiative, Project Ref No. 25-018, the Independent Research Fund Denmark, Grant No. 217-00158B, and the Danida Fellowship Centre programme for early-career researchers, Grant No. 21-EC05-KU.

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