Plants are universally recognized as a vital component of the world's biological diversity and an essential resource for the planet. In addition to the cultivated plant species used for food, timber and fibres, many wild plants have great economic and cultural importance and potential, as future crops and commodities more so as humanity grapples with the emerging challenges of environmental and climate change. Plants play a key role in maintaining the planet's basic environmental balance and ecosystem stability and provide an irreplaceable component of the habitats for the world's animal life. At present, a complete inventory of the plants of the world has not been assembled, but it is estimated that the total number of vascular plant species may be of the order of 400,000.
Of urgent concern is the fact that many plant species, communities, and their ecological interactions, including the many relationships between plant species and human communities and cultures, are in danger of extinction, threatened by such human-induced factors as, inter alia, climate change, habitat loss and transformation, over-exploitation, alien invasive species, pollution, clearing for agriculture and other development,. If this loss is not stemmed, countless opportunities to develop new solutions to pressing economic, social, health and industrial problems will also be lost. Furthermore, plant diversity is of special concern to indigenous and local communities, and these communities have a vital role to play in addressing the loss of plant diversity.
If efforts are made at all levels to fully implement this updated Strategy:
- societies around the world will be able to continue to rely upon plants for ecosystem goods and services, including food, medicines, clean water, climate amelioration, rich, productive landscapes, energy sources, and a healthy atmosphere;
- humanity will secure the ability to fully utilize the potential of plants to mitigate and adapt to climate change recognizing the role of plant diversity in maintaining the resilience of ecosystems;
- the risk of plant extinctions because of human activities will be greatly diminished, and the genetic diversity of plants safeguarded;
- the rich evolutionary legacy of plant diversity will be used sustainably and benefits arising are shared equitably to solve pressing problems, support livelihoods and improve human well-being;
- the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local human communities that depend on plant diversity will be recognized, respected, preserved and maintained; and
- people everywhere will be aware of the urgency of plant conservation and will understand that plants support their lives and that everyone has a role to play in plant conservation.
How the issue is being addressed under the CBD
In 2010, the Conference of the Parties, by decision X/17
, adopted the Updated Global Strategy for Plant Conservation 2011-2020
. The Strategy’s vision is to halt the continuing loss of plant diversity and to secure a positive, sustainable future where human activities support the diversity of plant life (including the endurance of plant genetic diversity, survival of plant species and communities and their associated habitats and ecological associations), and where in turn the diversity of plants support and improve our livelihoods and well-being.
The Strategy includes 16 outcome-oriented global targets
set for 2020, and provides a framework to facilitate harmony between existing initiatives aimed at plant conservation, to identify gaps where new initiatives are required, and to promote mobilization of the necessary resources. The global targets for 2011–2020 should be viewed as a flexible framework within which national and/or regional targets may be developed, according to national priorities and capacities, and taking into account differences in plant diversity between countries.
In 2002, the Conference of the Parties, by decision VI/9
, had adopted the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation
which provided a pilot exercise for the development and use of outcome targets under the first Strategic Plan
of the CBD.
The updating of the Strategy for the new decade was undertaken in parallel to the consultations leading to the adoption of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020
and its implementation should be considered within the broader framework of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.