From Timbuktu to India and South Africa, CP Wild Group is actively promoting the use of indigenous plant species for commercial use. It brings together experts in the field of ecology, economics, and social backgrounds to ensure that these indigenous plants do not become extinct but at the same time the local communities can benefit from using them for profit.
In South Africa, CPWild is working as partners with the Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development which is a department in the University of Pretoria and the Department of Forest and Wood Science, University of Stellenbosch as well as with the government agencies and private groups.
There are associations and groups that have taken up the same call to action to commercialize and preserve indigenous plants. These groups are PhytoTrade Africa, SANBI, and Enviropaedia.
Whereas the term “PhytoTrade” sounds like a downloadable app for your new Apple iPod touch, PhytoTrade Africa is actually a non-profit group that began in 2002. It is an association that trades in natural products from indigenous plants and produces products for commercial trade like oil, drinks, food ingredients, and material for make-up and cosmetics.
They work from South Africa but have extended their operations to other countries in Africa like Zimbabwe, Malawi, Swaziland, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zambia. Their goal is to help the poor improve their lives by doubling their current income through cottage industries and to protect the biodiversity of the African continent.
To be more specific about the work of PhytoAfrica, what they do is help with:
- Product Development
- Supply Chain Mechanics
Some of the products developed by PhytoTrade Africa are Baobab fruit extract, powder drink and cosmetic oils. They have found partner companies to help their members market their products like the French cosmetic company Aldivia and Blue Sky Botanics from the U.K.
South African National Biodiversity Institute or SANBI is a research group that aims to use the biodiversity of South Africa to benefit its citizens. They also engage in ecosystem restoration, rehabilitation, and human capital development. They manage the National Botanical Gardens and try to oversee the protection of the country’s 9 biomes, coastal marine species, plants, and animals.
SANBI began in 2004 as part of South Africa’s Biodiversity Act 10 which was made law by former President Thabo Mbeki. Originally, it only had control over the National Botanical Institute but after the law was passed, SANBI got the mandate to carry the responsibility of the country’s biodiversity which includes finding ways to provide a livelihood through a sustainable use of indigenous materials.
Although “Enviropaedia” sounds like an app you’d have to buy a tablet to access, it is instead an organisation composed of individuals who have come together with the intention of networking environmental groups with business support, information, and the promotion of sustainable goods made from local resources.
It is like a hub of information that groups who want to work with indigenous plants or resources can come to for help. It brings out the issues that may confront these groups with suggestions on how to get past hurdles or the government authority to talk to regarding the issue. In short, Enviropaedia is an empowering tool for groups like CPWild members and even government agencies like SANBI.
The first publication was released in the year 2000 and updates have been published every two years thereafter. In 2007, Enviropaedia came out with their first online edition and was officially launched during the World Environment Day 5 celebrations.