Born to eat wild: an integrated conservation approach to secure wild food plants for food security and nutrition

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Overlooked in national reports and in conservation programs, wild food plants (WFPs) have been a vital component of food and nutrition security for centuries.

Recently, several countries have reported on the widespread and regular consumption of WFPs, particularly by rural and indigenous communities but also in urban contexts. They are reported as critical for livelihood resilience and for providing essential micronutrients to people enduring food shortages or other emergency situations. However, threats derived from changes in land use and climate, overexploitation and urbanization are reducing the availability of these biological resources in the wild and contributing to the loss of traditional knowledge associated with their use. Meanwhile, few policy measures are in place explicitly targeting their conservation and sustainable use.

This can be partially attributed to a lack of scientific evidence and awareness among policymakers and relevant stakeholders of the untapped potential of WFPs, accompanied by market and non‐market barriers limiting their use. This paper reviews recent efforts being undertaken in several countries to build evidence of the importance of WFPs, while providing examples of cross‐sectoral cooperation and multi‐stakeholder approaches that are contributing to advance their conservation and sustainable use. An integrated conservation approach is proposed contributing to secure their availability for future generations.

Borelli, T.; Hunter, D.; Powell , B.; Ulian, T.; Mattana, E.; Termote, C.; Pawera, L.; Beltrame, D.; Penafiel, D.; Tan, A.; Taylor, M.; Engels, J.

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