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field with trees and flowers

Wildpluk: Promoting sustainable harvesting of wild foliage

Project team

Professor David Bek


IDH (Sustainable Trade Initiative, the Netherlands), Coloriginz, Westland Bloemen Export, Adomex and Greenflor


Jeroen Oudheusden, Robin Eagle Floriculture Sustainability Initiative

Duration of the project

May 2020-ongoing

Project overview

Wild harvested foliage products are a significant component of the overall cut‐flower industry, with international exports being worth around $0.75bn. Regions such as the Pacific Northwest of the USA, Catalonia, South Africa’s Cape Floral Kingdom and the Huaestca in Mexico, are the source of many millions of stems harvested from mountain sides, jungles and lowland areas. Such harvesting provides vital livelihood opportunities for rural people and foliages often have deep roots within local cultural practices. Stems of wild foliage, such as chico, salal, pistache and fynbos, are added into commercial flower bouquets to provide volume and texture. However, much wild harvesting is unregulated and as global demand increases a wide range of ecological and social sustainability risks are emerging. In turn this creates reputational risks within markets.

The market for foliage is changing due to consumer and regulatory pressures. Therefore, retailers increasingly want transparency concerning social and environmental impacts within supply chains. There is currently no assurance standard for wild harvested product, therefore these products lie out of the scope of the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative, which benchmarks sustainable practices within the cut-flower industry in Europe. This project is a response to the need to identify solutions to meet this assurance gap.

Project objectives

The objectives of the first phase of the project are:

(i) to map the scale and structure of the wild-harvesting sector globally;
(ii) to identify the sustainability risks that exist for different products;
(iii) to explore the different assurance options available;
(iv) to identify and rollout an appropriate assurance system that is acceptable to upstream and downstream stakeholders.

Impact statement

Research insights have led to the development of an assurance programme for adoption by the global foliage industry. This programme is in the process of being implemented and is helping to safeguard employment, improve working conditions and to conserve ecosytems.

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