A global assessment of the conservation status of useful wild plants
Plants are essential sources of food, medicine, shelter, fuel, and forage, and provide a wide range of additional ecosystem and cultural services to humanity. An understanding of the conservation status of the many thousands of socioeconomically and culturally important plant species distributed worldwide would require readily accessible quality data and efficient methods leading to accurate and reproducible results. Such an assessment, performed periodically, could serve as an indicator for Aichi Biodiversity Target 13 and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 2.5, facilitating the development and implementation of strategies aimed at safeguarding the genetic diversity within these species. Gaps in the current list of functioning indicators for these targets suggest that the development of an effective measurement of the state of conservation of the genetic diversity in useful plants is a major challenge. Here we present a gap analysis indicator methodology that provides a pragmatic estimate of the adequacy of conservation of the genetic diversity within useful wild plants, both ex situ and in situ. The methodology compares the geographic and ecological variation evident from analyses of the ‘site of collection’ of materials conserved in genebanks and other living plant repositories, and the variation evident in the proportion of species’ ranges within protected natural areas, against the full range of geographic and ecological variation in their native distributions. The methodology enables a prioritization of species for immediate conservation action, and, when measured repeatedly over time, can quantify progress toward the goal of comprehensive conservation of these plants at the global, regional, and national scales, including determining when that goal has been reached. For a comprehensive list of almost 7,000 useful wild plants, we find that these taxa are currently highly under-conserved, with less than three out of every 100 species assessed as sufficiently conserved or of low priority for further conservation action (overall global indicator = 2.78). Indicator results at the national and regional scales as well as by species use type varied, although virtually all countries, regions, and use categories were found to be in need of further conservation action, particularly with regard to ex situ conservation. The occurrence and eco-geographic input data, gap analysis methods and code, and results are available for indicator reporting and conservation prioritization setting.
Proportion of species in each conservation priority category at the global scale, measured with regard to ex situ conservation, in situ conservation, and as the combined final metric (global indicator).
Combined conservation indicatorIndicator results per country
Indicator results per country, combined conservation indicator
ex situ conservation indicatorIndicator results per country
Indicator results per country, ex situ conservation indicator
in situ conservation indicatorIndicator results per country
Indicator results per country, in situ conservation indicator
UsesIndicator results per socioeconomic and cultural use category
Proportion of species in each conservation priority category per socioeconomic and cultural use category, measured with regard to ex situ conservation, in situ conservation, and as the combined final metric.
World RegionsIndicator results per world region
Proportion of species in each conservation priority category per world region, measured with regard to ex situ conservation, in situ conservation, and as the combined final metric.
Number of speciesNumber of selected wild plant species native to each country
Number of selected socioeconomic and culturally valuable wild plant species native to each country or territory, as per WEP (Wiersema and Leon 2013). Scale varies from 1 (Andorra, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Kiribati, Niue, Palestinian Territory, St. Helena, Timor-Leste, and U.S. Minor Outlying Islands) to 642 (Turkey); mean across countries is 141; median is 86.
Results for the 6941 assessed species, use the search bar to filter species of interest:
CIAT Staff involved
Dr. Colin K. Khoury
Crop Diversity Specialist
Jonatan Soto Bermeo
Dr. Julian Ramirez-Villegas
María Victoria Diaz