The history behind the At-Risk List
United Plant Savers’ At-Risk list was first officially published in the book Planting the Future in 2000 (available for purchase here). This list was compiled based on concerns of those from all aspects of the herbal industry such as herbalists, ecologists, growers, and buyers who were very familiar with wild-harvesting, supply and demand, and habitat concerns for certain native medicinal species.
It then became apparent, as the herbal industry is rapidly growing and changing, that the organization needed a methodology that was transparent and could easily be shared with our members and the larger herbal world to help address conservation concerns. After many years and input from several stakeholders, UpS is thrilled to announce the publication of the “Ranking Tool Created for Medicinal Plants”. The information here explains the history, the logic, and methods behind the tool, while giving case studies and scores for current plants on the At-Risk List.
How you might help and engage in plant conservation
We encourage you to read the article below to become familar with how the tool works. The template for the tool itself, along with the scoring guide, can be downloaded below and used to evaluate plants. The tool is trademarked by United Plant Savers and if the tool is to be used in any capacity, UpS is to be cited as the creator of the tool. For those in the academic field, the publication below can be citied when using the tool in a publication. UpS wishes to Acknowledge Lisa Castle, who under the direction of Kelly Kindscher, developed the concept of the tool and its current publication and unveiling to the general public.
Though the main goal for the development of the tool was to create a methodology for scoring plants to rank their At-risk status, it became apparent along the way that this tool is a powerful teaching tool.
Ranking tool created for medicinal plants at risk of being overharvested in the wild
by Lisa Marie Castle, Susan Leopold, Rachel Craft, and Kelly Kindscher
Abstract: We developed an adaptable, transparent tool that can be used to quantify and compare vulnerability to overharvest for wild collected medicinal plants. Subsequently, we are creating a list of the most threatened medicinal plants in temperate North America. The new tool scores species according to their life history, the effects of harvest, their abundance and range, habitat, and demand. The resulting rankings, based on explicit criteria rather than expert opinion, will make it easier to discuss areas of vulnerability and set conservation priorities.