Alaena Charlotte Diamon
Guidelines For Ethical Wildcrafting
Every day 2400 acres of North American native habitat is destroyed and with it countless native plants and trees. According to some estimates, more than 2,000 native plant species (including many medicinal plants) are in imminent danger of extinction in the United States alone. Habitat destruction through unsustainable logging and agricultural practices and urban development are the major causes, however the ever-increasing demand for herbal products also is an important factor in the decreasing herbal population. It is perhaps the mission of all of us as caretakers of the earth's resources to ensure that our beloved plants will be around to benefit future generations.
1. Always gain permission from landowner or get proper permits for collecting.
2. Collect the plant in the proper growing phase, such as when it's flowering, producing berries, or time to harvest the root. Make sure the plant is strong, vital and energetic.
3. Do not over-harvest. Never collect more than 25% of the species in any given area. Make sure there are at least ten specimens of the plant in the immediate area before harvesting any. Pick no more than 5% of the native plants in any harvest area. Preferably, pick from areas about to be developed or cultivated. Always leave the largest and smallest members of the plant community. Take only from the middle growth. Do not under any circumstance harvest endangered, threatened or sensitive plants.
4. Never collect plants located close to highways or industrial areas, as they have most probably been exposed to pollution from traffic, which will definitely negatively affect the quality of the plants.
5. Never collect from areas with livestock, or downstream from livestock if collecting streamside.
6. Do not collect in areas of known pesticide use or possible chemical contaminants.
7. Do not collect in areas where the herb, root, or bark is scarce in its habitat. Practice propagation while you collect by replanting root crowns, scattering seeds, or pruning shrubs and trees to enhance growth. Always monitor harvest areas each year to check your successes. Maintain a caretaker's point of view and share your knowledge with others.