Opposition to Ex-Situ Conservation (was Sharing seeds of rare plants)

Monica Swartz eciton@utexas.edu
Tue, 11 Nov 2014 19:13:22 PST
Jane, after sending my last email about the US Endangered Species 
Act, I realized I failed to address your question about practical 
experience with this issue. I have had opposition to any captive 
cultivation of rare plants from people like the NRDC lecturer you 
mentioned. In California, for example, the California Native Plant 
Society takes the position that all such efforts should be restricted 
to qualified biologists working with the regulatory agencies (see 
http://www.cnps.org/cnps/archive/ex_situ.php).  Does CNPS decide who 
is qualified? Some of the best botanists I know have no formal 
degrees in the field, would they qualify?
I started a group of'"amateurs" (all expert native plant 
horticulturalists) that grow rare plants for producing seed for 
reintroduction to the wild. The group received some funding from 
USFWS and was advised by me, a Professor of Conservation Biology. 
There was enormous opposition to this from various people in the 
environmental community that I still fail to understand. Even a 
botanist working for the state wildlife agency vehemently opposed the 
group. Many of our members dropped out of the projects in horror at 
the reactions.
I have worked with many USFWS biologists and all believed that 
without "nonprofessional" engagement in conservation, we have little 
chance of avoiding extinction of many rare plants. I have not found 
that this belief is held by all state wildlife biologists or 
conservation NGOs.

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