King's College London

Research portal

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

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1681-1697
Number of pages17
Issue number9
Early online date16 Apr 2021
Accepted/In press28 Jan 2021
E-pub ahead of print16 Apr 2021
PublishedSep 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This work directly contributes to the ‘Useful Plants and Fungi of Colombia’ project, supported by a Professional Development & Engagement grant under the Newton-Caldas Fund partnership. The grant is funded by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Minciencias, and delivered by the British Council. This work also contributes to the NERC/AHRC funded Newton-Caldas Colombia BIO project POR EL Páramo [NE/R017999/1]. LK is supported by a studentship awarded by the Natural Environment Research Council [Grant Number NE/S007229/1]. Publisher Copyright: © 2021, Crown. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors


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.

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454