What more can plant scientists do to help save the green stuff?
conservation, Convention on Biological Diversity, Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, targets
The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) was the first such effort under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and had gone through a 3-year process to reach the level of maturity that enabled it to be approved by consensus by all Governments present at the key session in The Hague in April 2002. It provided a model for subsequent CBD workplans, with targets, and undoubtedly contributed to the 2010 target of reducing the rate of biodiversity loss. In the event, few of the targets were achieved, because of numerous constraints at both policy and implementation levels. Even so, the GSPC stands as an important milestone in the global effort to conserve biodiversity. However, few plant scientists can be satisfied that the essential steps are being taken to ensure the conservation of plants, although, of course, plant scientists are only one part of the complex effort that will be required. This paper offers some suggestions that might be worth consideration, building on the basic principle in politics that a strong constituency is necessary to victory. In other words, although plant scientists play a crucial role, plant conservation is too important to leave in their hands alone; far broader support is required, including from the private sector, agriculture, forestry, trade, economics, tourism and even the military. Although botanical science provides a solid foundation, other branches of science are also important, ranging from anthropology to zoology. The legal profession also has important contributions to make (as well as the ability to hamper progress – for example through using issues such as access and benefit sharing to limit the exchange of genetic materials for even noncommercial use). 2010 was the United Nations Year of Biodiversity, and the GSPC targets reached their due date. It therefore seems timely to add some additional perspectives to the effort to update the GSPC. This paper suggests ways to reach a far broader constituency, provides tools to those who are expected to achieve the targets, and suggests ways to build a strong international constituency to conserve the world's botanical wealth.