Medicinal plants—defined as higher plants used for medicinal purposes—number more than 50,000 species worldwide, and global export value is estimated to exceed $3.3 billion.
Encompassing two biodiversity hotspots, Indonesia is a megadiverse country with as many as 7,500 medicinal plant species. In this study, researchers used GBIF-mediated occurrences of 233 priority species in a gap analysis to identify sites ideal for in situ reserves and ex situ collection.
The study identifies the western part of Java as the richest area with as many as 82 unique species. Forty-one 50 x 50 km cells were identified as potential candidates for in situ conservation, of which 33 overlapped with protected areas.
For ex situ conservation, the study pointed to Western Java and Maluku as most in need of further collection. Thirty-eight species had fewer than five known occurrences and, of these, only six were present in national ex situ conservation.
The authors of the study propose establishing active conservation of priority medicinal species inside current protected areas. They also suggest intense domestication and propagation of the six priority species already present in live collection to support their reintroduction in natural habitats.