The American Herbal Products Association Foundation for Education and Research on Botanicals (AHPA ERB Foundation) announced today that a grant of $10,000 USD has been donated to CONABIO, the national agency responsible for Biodiversity Information and the CITES Scientific Authority in Mexico. The grant was generously provided by the Estée Lauder Companies/Aveda Corporation and was made in support of CONABIO's ongoing efforts to provide reliable information to support conservation and sustainable use for the candelilla plant (Euphorbia antisyphilitica).
This succulent plant is native to several states in northern and central Mexico and to small areas of New Mexico and Texas in the United States. Commercial production and export of candelilla wax from this plant takes place only in Mexico. The wax is primarily used as an ingredient in cosmetic products, and has uses in foods, pharmaceutical products, and wood finishes, among others. The candelilla plant was included in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) under Appendix II in 1975 due to levels of harvesting that had significantly reduced its native populations during the 1940's. Currently, harvest of wild populations in Mexico and international trade is regulated by a permit system, and native areas in the U.S. are protected under the National Park system.
The CONABIO candelilla conservation and sustainable use project is initially focused on the plant populations in Coahuila (the state that produces more than 80% of the candelilla wax exported by Mexico) and consists of the following activities:
- Conducting surveys on the history of harvest of candelilla in the defined harvest areas;
- Compiling data (inventory) on the number of plants and measuring plant heights and diameters for representative samples; and
- Documenting the environmental conditions and characteristics of the site (geoposition, conservation level, associated species, environmental characterization, etc.)
Collection of this information will enable estimations of the distribution, abundance and population structure of candelilla in the study area, as well as projections of the available biomass as an indicator of the amount of wax that can be obtained. According to Gabriela Lopez, Coordinator of the Mexican CITES Scientific Authority (CONABIO), "results of the data collection will also be useful in determining the current conservation status and estimations for sustainable harvest of the candelilla plant. This information will also support the development of guidelines for the management and harvest of candelilla populations, as well as information to strengthen the harvest authorization processes." CONABIO intends to launch similar conservation projects in other Mexican states that harvest candelilla, once the initial pilot project in Coahuila is well-advanced.
"The AHPA ERB Foundation is grateful for the generous support of the Estée Lauder Companies and Aveda in making this donation toward CONABIO's conservation efforts," added Beth Lambert, Chair of the AHPA ERB Foundation board of directors.