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Conservation of Medicinal Plants.
Edited by Olayiwola Akerele, Vernon Heywood, and Hugh Synge. Cambridge University Press, 40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011. 1991. 362 pp. Hardcover. $59.95. ISBN 0-521-39206-3.

Conservation of Medicinal Plants is the Proceedings of an International Consultation held at Chiang Mai, Thailand, March 21-27,1988. The meeting was jointly organized by the World Health Organization, IUCN -- The World Conservation Union, and the World Wildlife Fund. The Chiang Mai Consultation was organized to address issues relative to producing national inventories of medicinal plants, establishing germ plasm in gene banks, and developing information on the taking and sustainable harvesting of medicinal plants.

Despite increasing international interest in medicinal plants, the organizers recognized that little attention had been placed on medicinal plant conservation issues, and that some medicinal plants were experiencing severe genetic erosion, and were becoming endangered because of over-harvesting. For example, the government of India had placed a moratorium on the harvest of Indian Snakeroot (Rauwolfia serpentina, source of the tranquilizer drug reserpine), because of its increasing scarcity. Scientists in a wide range of academic disciplines presented papers at the Consultation. Twenty-seven papers on a wide range of medicinal plant conservation issues comprise part of the Conservation of Medicinal Plants. Various papers cover medicinal plant economics, specific conservation techniques, public policy polemics, and experiences of medicinal plant conservation programs in India, China, Kenya, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Southern Africa. The book provides varied background information for beginning to understand the many problems associated with medicinal plant conservation and the incorporation of sound scientific principles into the development ofmedicinal plant conservation as it relates to public health issues.

Article copyright American Botanical Council.