Sustainability of wild plant use in the Andean Community of South America

Laura Kor, Katherine Homewood, Terence P. Dawson, Mauricio Diazgranados*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Overexploitation is the second biggest driver of global plant extinction. Meanwhile, useful plant species are vital to livelihoods across the world, with global conservation efforts increasingly applying the concept of ‘conservation-through-use.’ However, successfully balancing conservation and biodiversity use remains challenging. We reviewed literature on the sustainability of wild-collected plant use across the countries of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia—a region of global importance for its biological and cultural richness. After applying defined search terms and a two-stage screening process, 68 articles were reviewed. The numbers which reported sustainable, unsustainable, or context-dependent outcomes were relatively even, but national differences emerged. Through narrative synthesis, we identified five key, reoccurring themes: plant biology; land tenure; knowledge, resource, and capacity; economics and market pressures; and institutional structures, policy, and legislation. Our results show the need for flexible, context-specific approaches and the importance of collaboration, with bottom-up management and conservation methods involving local communities and traditional ecological knowledge often proving most effective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1681-1697
Number of pages17
Issue number9
Early online date16 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Conservation-through-use
  • Ethnobotany
  • Natural resource use
  • NTFP
  • Plant conservation
  • Useful plants


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