GSPC Target 7

Objective I: Plant diversity is well understood, documented and recognized

Objective II: Plant diversity is urgently and effectively conserved

Objective III: Plant diversity is used in a sustainable and equitable manner

Objective IV: Education and awareness about plant diversity, its role in sustainable livelihoods and importance to all life on earth is promoted

Objective V: The capacities and public engagement necessary to implement the Strategy have been developed


In situ conservation is generally considered to be the primary approach for conservation as it ensures that species are maintained in their natural environments, allowing evolutionary processes to continue. Moreover, for some species, which are dependant on complex relationships with other species for their survival (specialised pollinators, soil bacteria etc.), it may be the only feasible conservation method.

Conserving threatened species often requires more than the designation of protected areas, although these are important. Some countries have put in place a legislative framework for conserving threatened species, in addition to designating protected areas. Threatened species need to be conserved where they grow, and this can include urban landscapes and production areas, as well as natural and semi-natural habitats.

Download an introduction to Target 7 here.

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The long term goal for this target is the effective in situ conservation of all threatened species. "Conserved in situ" is used to mean biologically viable populations of these species occur in at least one protected area or the species is effectively managed outside the protected area network.

"Effective conservation" needs to consider both the genetic diversity of the species and the potential impacts of climate change and other pressures on the species. In the latter case, it might be necessary to determine if the protected area network within which a species is conserved includes corridors, altitudinal gradients, or the presence of multiple habitats to facilitate species movement.

Many endemic species are, by definition, vulnerable and should be treated as a priority for this target.

Implementation of this target contributes to Target 12 of the Aichi targets of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020:

T12: By 2020, the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained.


The development and implementation of species recovery plans and programmes provide integrated conservation strategies for wild plants. These often involve a combination of in situ assessment of natural plant populations, monitoring of their status and the current or past causes of their decline, and the determination of future priorities, therefore enabling their recovery. Recovery measures include land protection, habitat management and/or restoration, ex situ cultivation and reintroduction and public education programmes.

Habitat protection can be achieved through formal protection in a conservation area, through community-based management approaches, or, in some instances, through threatened species legislation - which may be more effective if the species exists on private land. For some threatened species, further action, such as the removal of invasive species, restriction of disturbance or the exclusion of grazing animals may be required.

Active management focuses on increasing the number and size of populations and, if care is not taken, can affect the species' genetic structure and evolutionary development. Different populations across a species range will differ to varying degrees in their genetic composition. Thus populations supply genetic diversity and as populations are eliminated locally, genes may become extinct globally. Low risk techniques aim to manipulate or restore natural processes in order to increase recruitment in the target population. Such techniques may include hand pollination or clearing competitor plants.

For species characterised by extremely low numbers, high risk techniques, such as translocation and ex situ propagation of planting material may be required. Translocation, with its associated high cost and maintenance requirements, may be best viewed as a last resort when all other options are deemed inappropriate or have failed.

Tools and resources

Please also check in the database of Tools of Resources for Case Studies relevant to this target.

Using volunteers for in situ conservation

This chapter from the Applied Plant Conservation Training Manual produced by Denver Botanic Gardens and the United States Botanic Garden provides guidance on how to create a volunteer network and gather quality data 



The exact number of threatened plants in the world remains to be determined through the achievement of Target 2.  However. while progress at the global level towards this target is constrained by the lack of progress in Red Listing, at the national level, information on threatened plants is available for many countries.A number of countries report that protected areas have been specifically designated to protect threatened species, although it is still believed that too few protected areas include conservation of plant species within their management objectives.

From the 2011-2020 Aichi targets, Target 12 is the most relevant to the GSPC target 7 “By 2020, the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status… improved and sustained."

A ’Friends’ of Target 12 partnership has been formed made up of institutions and organisations supporting the target and its implementation. The ‘Friends’ primary goal is to provide practical guidance and raise awareness of initiatives being implemented - such as reports, guidelines and publications .The work being carried out towards Aichi Target 12 will also help the achievement of GSPC Target 7.

The Species Survival Commission (SSC) of IUCN   have published a number of species action plans over the years available to download in PDF format from the IUCN web-link . The plans provide a detailed and specific assessment of species conservation status and their habitats, and outlines conservation priorities. The action plans are accessible to conservation bodies, decision makers and land owners

Despite encouraging progress in some countries, overall the continuing loss of natural habitat means that the in situ conservation status of many species is getting worse. Furthermore, many species that occur within protected areas are not effectively conserved and are affected by factors such as invasive species, climate change and unregulated harvesting.








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