Gland, Switzerland, 26.02.02. IUCN-The World Conservation Union. SSC headed IUCN's input to the recent meeting convened by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which outlined sound technical rationales for specific targets that will be included in the emerging Global Plant Conservation Strategy.
The meeting, held on Gran Canaria, 11-13 February, was called for by the CBD technical meeting (SBSTTA) in November 2001 at which the Parties requested that experts refine the quantitative elements of the 16 targets in the draft strategy, providing a scientific and technical rationale in each case. This meeting involved CBD Parties and a wide range of organisations with extensive conservation expertise. The targets are grouped under the following broad themes:
1. Understanding and documenting plant diversity
2. Conserving plant diversity
3. Using plant diversity sustainably
4. Promoting education and awareness about plant diversity
5. Building capacity for the conservation of plant diversity
Targets in which IUCN and SSC are principal players include: developing a preliminary conservation assessment of all plant species; ensuring that the world's plant species are conserved in situ; developing management plans for at least 100 major alien species that threaten plants; incorporating the importance of plant diversity and the need for its conservation into communication, education and public awareness programmes; and strengthening networks for plant conservation at national, regional and international levels.
However, IUCN will also be closely linked with the rest of the targets, as they cut across the Union's programme. Close attention will be paid to understanding conservation biology needs for threatened plant species; ensuring that representative portions of the world's ecological regions and important plant areas are effectively conserved; managing agriculture in a way that is compatible with plant conservation; ensuring that plant species and genetic diversity are conserved in ex situ collections and that indigenous knowledge is maintained; ensuring that plant species are not subjected to unsustainable use; and increasing the number of trained people with appropriate facilities working for plant conservation.
While the strategy is ambitious, it is feasible if the world's governments and national, regional and international conservation organisations pull together. There is widespread acknowledgement that plant diversity is declining at unprecedented rates and action must be taken to ensure that plants continue to play their essential role in human survival and sustainable development.
Home to more than 170 threatened plant species (of a total flora of some 1800 species), the Canary Islands provided an appropriate venue for world plant conservation experts to meet and discuss the Global Plant Conservation Strategy which will be submitted to the CBD at the next Conference of the Parties, which takes place in the Hague, April 7-19, 2002.
See the technical review of the targets and analysis of opportunities for their implementation on the CBD website (scroll down to the paper UNEP/CBD/COP/6/12/Add.4).
IUCN/SSC Plant Conservation Programme