United Plant Savers

United Plant Savers

United Plant Savers is a group founded to protect native medicinal plants of the United States and Canada and their native habitat while ensuring an abundant renewable supply of medicinal plants for generations to come. [http://www.timesargus.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050605/NEWS/506050358/1003 Plant savers focus on conserving medicinals: Times Argus Online ] ]

Founded in Orange, Vermont in 1995, by US herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, the Vermont-based nonprofit is all about plant conservation. United Plant Savers has about 2,000 members nationwide. The group started, as herbalists realized that with the increased interest in herbal medicine, pressure was growing on medicinal herbs. According to executive director Lynda LeMole, plants were being harvested in the wild, and the supply was beginning to dwindle. For instance German pharmaceutical companies were buying up large stores of wildcrafted old growth black cohosh for menopausal remedies. [Bierzychudek, P. (1982b) Life histories and demography of shade-tolerant temperate forest herbs: a review. New Phytologist, 90]

UPS publishes a list of wild medicinal plants which are at risk because of the impact of human activities. The intent is to increase the abundance of medicinal plants which are currently in decline due to expanding popularity and shrinking habitat and range. The focus is on its "at risk" list, about 20 plants in danger of disappearing due to habitat loss and over-harvesting. From the well-known American ginseng to the lesser known lomatium, the group is keeping watch and educating people about the problem.

UPS has not asked for a moratorium on the use of these herbs but has initiated programs designed to preserve the important plants including seed distribution so that at-risk plants can be cultivated either in botanical reserves or for trade to reduce dependence upon wildcrafted stock, herbal education conferences, internships, cirricula on plant conservation for schools of herbal medicine, a listing of internet resources and establishing medical botanical sanctuaries. [http://www.unitedplantsavers.org/Home.html]

UPS is in the process of establishing a network of medicinal botanical sanctuaries throughout the country. [ [http://www.unitedplantsavers.org/UpS_Botanical_Sanctuary_Network.html Welcome to United Plant Savers ] ] Its goal is to help establish Botanical Sanctuaries that not only serve as rich depositories for `at risk' North American medicinal plants, but also serve as educational centers for plant conservation and organic cultivation. [ [http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/04/united_plant_savers.php United Plant Savers: Planting the Future : TreeHugger ] ] In Orange, Vermont, herbalist Betzy Bancroft manages the United Plant Savers offices on Knox Mountain where the organization has created a botanical sanctuary where plants such as ginseng, bloodroot and goldenseal thrive in their natural habitat.

Across the country, members have created private sanctuaries to preserve indigenous plants which range in size from a quarter acre to hundreds of acres. In Rutland, Ohio Untied Plant Savers has one of its largest sanctuaries, a 378-acre botanical sanctuary. In 2001 the group received a grant for $22,000 from the Outagamie Charitable Foundation of Appleton, Wisconsin was for building a selfguided medicine trail at UPS's Ohio botanical sanctuary. The Medicine Trail Project promotes the preservation and cultivation of native medicinal plants of the Appalachian region by improving the accessibility and the educational utility of The Medicine Trail: a system of trails and footpaths that incorporates natural woodlands and reclaimed mining lands and shows extensive populations of at-risk native medicinal plants from the modern North American pharmacopoeia. The Medicine Trail provides visitors and researchers access to these plants as they exist in nature. [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0ISW/is_2001_June/ai_75178684 United Plant Savers Receives $42,000 for Botanical Sanctuary | Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients | Find Articles at BNET.com ] ]

A second grant for $20,000 in matching funds from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation was used for the Native Plant Harvest and Regeneration Project, also located at the botanical sanctuary in Ohio. Three native plants were studied in terms of population dynamics and sustainable wild harvesting, goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa), and bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). This is part of the mission to partner with the herbal products industry to transition from using wild medicinal plants to using cultivated native plants.


ee also

*Rosemary Gladstar


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