Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has published the Biodiversity Management Plan for Pelargonium Sidoides in South Africa 2011 – 2020 in the Government Gazette during May month this year.
Pelargonium sidoides, commonly known as Umckaloabo, Uvendle, Kalwerbossie, Rabassam and Khoaara e nyenyane, is endemic to Lesotho and South Africa. It is harvested from the wild for the manufacturing of phytomedicines by both local and international pharmaceutical companies. The plant is found in major habitats such as the Succuelnt Karoo, Albany Thicket, Fynbos. Grassland and Nama Karoo biomes.
Pelargonium sidoides has been successfully used for the treatment of respiratory infections like bronchitis, sinusitis, pneumonia and tonsillitis. The potential threat to the species in the wild arising from the harvest and subsequent bio prospecting ventures for local, national and international trade has resulted in the development of this Biodiversity Management Plan for Species (BMP-S). The aim of the BMP-S is to ensure the long term survival of Pelargonium sidoides in the wild, while ensuring the livelihoods of stakeholders are respected.
BMP-S also aims to ensure monitoring and control systems are strengthened to enable authorities to effectively oversee harvests from the wild. The BMP-S has six objectives relating to sustainability of the species, ensuring that all legislation related to the species are adhered to and ensuring that the collection of Pelargonium sidoides is based upon adaptive, practical, participatory and transparent management practices. These objectives will be achieved by regularly monitoring the trade of the species and engaging in continuous scientific research and analysis to ensure that the survival of the species in the wild is not affected by trade.
The BMP-S also outlines the regular reviewing and revising of relevant legislation, regulations and agreements to ensure that collection, management and trade procedures are in compliance. These form the basis of the action plan contained in the BMP-S for Pelargonium sidoides.
The BMP-S for Pelargonium sidoides has been developed for the period 2011-2020 and has five expected outcomes. First, a forum for stakeholders involved in the trade of Pelargonium sidoides must through the formalisation of the current Pelargonium Working Group be established. Secondly, an up-to-date and detailed resource distribution, population data and maps to provide guidance on conservation measures must be developed and applied to the industry. Lastly, the action plan will achieve a greater understanding amongst stakeholders on the need to conserve and sustainably utilise the resource in the wild for continued and sustainable benefit to all stakeholder.
The fourth expected outcome is to develop precise targets for completion of tasks within a five-year period that will ensure the conservation requirements of the species in the wild, while also considering the economic potential of the species and finally, for coordination between national and provincial environmental protection agencies to ensure traceability as well as adherence to various access, benefit sharing and conservation legislations and regulations.
The BMP-S therefore calls for all harvesting and trade to follow best management practices in order to minimise the environmental impact of activities associated with trade.
Information gathered during projects conducted between 2003 and 2008 where collated into the background information presented at the workshop in 2009. Extensive consultations and meetings with various stakeholders in the industry were held between 2009 and 2011 to inform the content of this BMP-S. The consultations ranged from interviews with traders and conservation officials to workshops on key issues affecting the trade in Pelargonium sidoides.