Monday, 14 April 2008

Where do your Cacti come from?

A plea for biodiversity.

I read that cactus poaching and smuggling is becoming big business in Mexico, largely into the US but it's likely that some turn up in Europe as well.

This kind of wholesale pillaging of a country's biodiversity is not new and happens on many levels from small scale poaching up to organised crime. And it happens to satiate the vanity of gardeners and collectors in the developed world who, because of the whims of horticultural fashion, have switched to the next 'must have' plant; a few years ago it was New Zealand's tree ferns, now it's cacti and only Allah knows what it will be in a few years time.

These practices have devastating impacts on the ecosystems in which they are perpetrated and can have equally disastrous impacts on the places to which they are transported; not only is there the ever growing and apparently endless list list of invasive alien species around the world but there is the problem of local hybridisation, Britain's bluebells are increasingly becoming genetically contaminated with introduced Spanish stock.

So please, unless you want to cripple an increasing number of ecosystems: check the provenance of any plants you buy especially if the species is new to the market, buy from reputable garden centers or growers and please, please, please don't buy plants on holiday abroad.

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