Sharing seeds of rare plants

Kipp McMichael
Tue, 11 Nov 2014 19:55:08 PST
> From:
> 	I am reminded of a large botanical garden (no name) grows a very rare plant that became extinct in the wild...

 I assume James is refrerring to Nymphaea thermarum (or maybe this story is more common than I thought). The issue with this plant - and many others both actually rare/protected and not at all threatened - is the Convention on Biological Diversity. This agreement means that a given taxon is considered the property of its home country, meaning a given botanical garden is not allowed to distribute the plant without formal agreements from the origin country/region/tribe/etc to allow for this. Since sovereigns are rarely interested in small-scale horticultural deals, the CBD effectively prevents the very kind of conservation-minded distributions you and Jane are talking about (a topic that has been discussed here before). 
Kew can't give out N. thermarum seeds or plants without some formal agreement/process to "compensate" Rwanda. Although in principle the CBD is designed to encourage groups to figure out how to use the sale of a rare taxon to fund preservation in the wild, this is rarely the result because many rare taxa are not particularly charismatic - or are only so for a small number of people. 
  The result is that rare taxa that are easy to grow and propagate remain rare and risk true extinction when a given botanical garden's staff loses interest in keeping the plant. Very, very frustrating...

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