IUCN/SSC Plant Conservation Programme and Network


IUCN Species Programme and IUCN/Species Survival Commission have developed a Plant Conservation Strategy as the basis for the SSC's Plants Programme that includes publishing Action Plans, Red List criteria, and Red lists, and providing sound and practical advice on plant conservation to IUCN and its other commissions, international conventions, governments, and any other organizations requiring information that will promote plant conservation. The efforts of the Plants Programme are an integral part of the SSC Strategic Planning for Species Conservation (2008) (Overview version, 3MB) and the current quadrennial IUCN programme Shaping a Sustainable Future (2009-2012) (pdf_small (1K)3 MB).

The SSC Plant Conservation Sub-Committee (PCSC) directs the work of the Plants Programme under the umbrella of the Plant Conservation Strategy aiming to halt the current and continuing loss of plant diversity through its wide-ranging network of plant conservationists. The PCSC works to support and facilitate the activities of the SSC Chair, the IUCN Species Programme, and the expert volunteer network of specialist groups, task forces and others, providing overall strategic guidance and direction in accordance with the mandate of SSC. The PCSC consists of botanical experts from around the world representing a wide variety of disciplines and organizations involved in plant conservation.

The SSC plant network comprises approximately 30 Plant Specialist Groups (including the Cactus and Succulent Specialist Group), the Plant Red List Authorities, and a wide variety of associated partners world wide, all providing fundamental expertise on the role of species, habitats, and ecosystems, all of which are comprised largely of plants. The Plant Specialist Groups and the Plant Red List Authorities implement much of the Plant Programme's work.

While continuing to implement the SSC Plant Conservation Strategy, the SSC Plants Programme has been closely involved with the development and implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC). In 1993, CBD entered into force as an international legally binding treaty with three main goals: conservation of biodiversity; sustainable use of its components; and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources. The objectives of GSPC are (i) to halt the current and continuing loss of plant diversity; (ii) to provide 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; (iii) to enhance the ecosystem approach to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and focus on the vital role of plants in the structure and functioning of ecological systems and assure provision of the goods and services such systems provide.

Through the CBD and its GSPC for the period 2002-2010, the global community has given IUCN the mandate to assess, monitor, and report on the conservation status of the world's flora by 2010. IUCN/SSC is leading a global effort to address Strategy Target 2, "A preliminary assessment of the conservation status of all known plant species, at national, regional and international levels". SSC is also sharing the lead for Target 5, "Protection of 50% of the most important areas for plant diversity assured" with Plantlife International. The SSC Plant Conservation Sub-Committee is committed to helping achieve the targets of this Global Strategy.

IUCN Species Programme will support the SSC Plants Programme to develop and implement a global plant assessment project including assistance to survey of current plant assessment activities undertaken in botanic gardens, herbaria, and elsewhere outside the SSC plant network to identify progress, gaps, and partnerships. Key botanical research institutions like Botanical Gardens Conservation International and its associated networks and members, Royal Botanical Garden Kew and other organizations will be invited to become Red List partners.

The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation was published by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity in association with Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). In 2009, IOS and BGCI have formed a partnership. IOS, in association with BGCI, will promote the establishment of a network of 'Reserve Collections' of living cacti and other succulent plants and measures to assess and enhance the potential of these collections as a resource for research and conservation.

Continue: Cactus and Succulent Specialist Group

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Micranthocereus aureiazureus

Micranthocereus aureiazureus
Brazil, Minas Gerais
© Graham Charles

Cleistocactus hyalacanthus

Cleistocactus hyalacanthus
Bolivia, Chuquisaca,
Chini Mayu
© Ingrid & Rainer Mecklenburg

Oreocereus celsianus

Oreocereus celsianus
Bolivia, Taija, Mochara Pampa
© Ingrid & Rainer Mecklenburg