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Help Save the Plants!

As the medicinal herb industry grows and the habitat for native plants diminishes, these plants are at-risk of over harvesting and potentially disappearing completely. Meanwhile, the health care industry is realizing just how important regional herbal medicine is to the vitality of local communities.  Did you know that goldenseal is a powerful agent against the deadly bacteria that causes MRSA infection? Not only are people losing access to vital regional medicine, but the world is losing the plant diversity that is critical to ecosystem services, like processing carbon, and food for pollinators.

United Plant Savers (UpS) is the only organization advocating for the sustainability of native medicinal plants and encouraging conservation through cultivation. Placing plants on an At-Risk List has been a great first step for protecting these plants; however, shifting land use practices and the increasing demands of the natural products industry require additional effort. UpS empowers its members to make a difference by creating native plant Sanctuaries in their own backyards and by promoting the responsible purchasing of herbal medicines.

It takes a lot of maturity, a maturity that the human species is still working toward, to see that we’re here to give out as much as we receive.  The launch of United Plant Savers is the herbal community maturing and working hard to give back to the earth by being a voice for protection of the native plants.”

– Rosemary Gladstar Founder of United Plants Savers.

Meet the Supporters: 

United Plant Savers collaborates with many state and federal agencies such as Fish and Wildlife, Federal Park Service, local agricultural extension agencies who promote specialty crops and several University programs that teach ethnobotany, medicinal plant conservation and herbalism. UpS is supported by over 50 corporate members that renew each year.

1% member business Elemental Herbs recommended that United Plant Savers become an approved nonprofit partner and has since supported their cause.

Successes:

- The Botanical Sanctuary Network developed by UpS includes 101 sanctuaries across the country with nearly 7,000 acres dedicated to conservation of at-risk native medicinal plants.

- UpS has built relationships with herb companies to save goldenseal, their signature plant.

- The UpS  “At-Risk List” has helped bring awareness to several medicinal plants such as lady slipper that is no longer abundant enough to serve as medicine.

- UpS has promoted sustainable alternatives and endless educational workshops and materials over the last 19 years.

Challenges:

Expanding membership and support is a constant challenge. Plant Conservation is difficult to fund through foundational support so UpS depends on membership dues for close to 50% of our annual budget.  The remainder of the budget comes from the support of conscious herb companies.  Finding consistent financial support is essential.

Call to Action:

UpS is currently seeking funds to expand the Botanical Sanctuary Network. Funds will the organization reach out to a broader audience, connect sanctuaries to each other and empower members to join in our effort.  The ultimate goal is creating a large network of thriving sanctuaries that connects plant communities and human communities.

You can also support UpS by donating to their Mad Marathon team, which is running in the first marathon devoted to issues of sustainability.  A team of 5 recent graduates will be competing under the name, “Run for the Plants.” They have a goal of raising 10,000.00.

The Future of Our Native Planets 

As United Planet Savers’ membership grows, so can their programs. The Botanical Sanctuary Network, grants made to community herbal gardens, having additional schools join the Partners in Education program, and UpS internships are all important steps to protecting medicinal planets for the future.  Ideally, as many medicinal plant varieties as possible can be protected in perpetuity.

Contact Susan Leopold, PhD, Executive Director of UpS, susan@unitedplantsavers.org, 703-667-0208 with any further questions.

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