I have been invited to speak at the symposium ‘Tackling over-collection of wild plants: is horticulture a conservation problem or solution? ‘ at the International Congress for Conservation Biology 2017. I will be talking about ‘Horticultural propagation versus wild collection for commercially viable yields’ .
An overview of what I will be talking about is:
With profit as the driving focus of trade in plants the cost of cultivation in comparison to the cost of wild collection is an important consideration when evaluating existing supplies or projecting future supplies of botanical ingredients and products. Not all plants are easy to cultivate and obstacles to cultivation can be presented at the initial stage of propagation. Agriculture is dominated by domesticated plants that have been differentiated from their wild ancestors via trait selection by people cultivating them. Ease of propagation is an important component of cultivation. However many wild-collected plants in trade are not replaceable by domesticated cultivars that are easy to propagate. Modern technology and advances in scientific knowledge on propagation are increasing the repertoire of plants that can be cultivated. However factoring in the costs of propagation can make cultivation an unviable supply route from a commercial perspective. The case for evaluating commercial viability on a species by species basis is illustrated by contrasting examples of undomesticated vascular and non-vascular plants, propagated by different means, which are traded worldwide from both cultivated and wild-collected sources.