WWF, IUCN, and TRAFFIC created an initiative in the mountains of China's Upper Yangtze ecoregion as part of the EU-China Biodiversity Program (ECBP) to support organic wild crop harvesting practices and certification procedures, as well as FairWild principles.
Due to a 1998 logging ban and the 2000 "Grain for Green" program, which discourages farming on steep slopes, households were encouraged to start in more wild collection of medicinal plants in the mountains (home to endangered wildlife, including the Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) and the Takin (Budorcas taxicolor)). This initiative was designed to support the collectors in making use of native species in the mountains, without destroying the habitat.
Now this project has won the prestigious Equator Prize as an outstanding local initiative working to advance sustainable development solutions for people, nature, and resilient communities in countries receiving support from the UNDP. The project has also scaled up from one village in the 2008 and 2009 harvests up to 22 villages in the 2011 harvest. A survey of project sites in March 2011 found incomes from medicinal plant collection had risen, thanks to the certification schemes; in one village by almost 18 percent.
"This project is proving that local harvesters from villages surrounding the Giant Panda conservation area can successfully implement meaningful sustainability standards," said Josef Brinckmann, VP of Sustainability for TMI.