Global Strategy for Plant Conservation

Above: Grandidier's Baobab (Adansonia grandidieri), Madagascar. © Bernard Gagnon/CC BY-SA 3.0

The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation is a programme of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), agreed by the UK and 195 other governments around the world, with targets to be met by 2020. This sets the framework for Plantlife’s work with Plant Link across the UK and its nations, and with our international partners.

Without plants, there is no life. The functioning of the planet, and our survival, depends on plants. The Strategy seeks to halt the continuing loss of plant diversity. (GSPC Vision)

The GSPC 2011-2020 has 16 targets under 5 objectives:

  • Plant diversity is well understood, documented and recognized.
  • Plant diversity is urgently and effectively conserved.
  • Plant diversity is used in a sustainable and equitable manner.
  • Education and awareness about plant diversity, its role in sustainable livelihoods and importance to all life on Earth is promoted.
  • The capacities and public engagement necessary to implement the strategy have been developed.

Plantlife’s 2014 report analysed progress in the UK in meeting these objectives, finding that there is good news, but still some major hurdles to overcome.

Global Strategy for Plant Conservation

A review of the UK’s progress towards 2020.

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On target:

  • The UK probably has the best documented flora in the world, with nearly 6,000 species of flowers, mosses and lichens mapped and monitored. This is an incredible conservation achievement; there are just 557 butterflies, birds and bees in the whole of Britain.
  • Over 75% of our threatened flora is stored in seed banks and seeds and plants are being used to restore populations in the wild.
  • 96% of our globally significant Important Plant Areas (IPAs) such as the New Forest IPA, are covered by statutory protection.

Below target:

  • Major habitats are not being managed well enough. Just 4% of our woodland, 8% of heathland and 11% of grasslands are in ‘favourable’ conservation condition.
  • 95% of threatened plants in England and Wales are found on farmland and in woodland, yet current agri-environment schemes are largely failing these species
  • Threatened species continue to decline: 72 species, including golden-eye lichen and corn marigold, are not prioritised for action. Some that are, like spreading bellflower and field gentian, continue on the path towards extinction.
  • Occurences of invasive non-natives such as American skunk-cabbage have doubled in the wild, piling pressure on wildlife sites. And they are still on sale...
  • Our experts are as threatened as the plants and fungi they work hard to conserve. There are more Pandas in British zoos than there are lichenologists employed by agencies, museums and botanic gardens.

As 2020 draws ever closer, Plantlife is working in partnership to review the GSPC and to secure a new and ambitious strategy for the years ahead.