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Forum Synergie

Linking sustainable practices throughout Europe

Promoting sustainable use and traditional knowledge of medicinal plants

Rural topic(s): Herbs and health in rural areas

Type: Réflexions de membres du FS ou d’autres acteurs locaux

Date of writing: May 6, 2009

Author(s) of the proposal: Simone Matouch


Alternative healing methods face a revival. Discussions on how our health care system can be financed in the future additionally heat up the evolution of herbal medicine. More and more people learn again about how they could heal themselves. In the same moment those who originally profited from their traditional knowledge about medicinal herbs are increasingly excluded from the use and commercialization of their local resources due to strict laws.


It’s not only that they have to meet strict hygienic standards what often implicates expansive structural measures but also that more and more plants are restricted to medicinal use only so that they can no longer be used in local products like e.g. tees. On the other hand products on the basis of local plant resources have become an important economic pillar especially for small farmers. Apart from the economic aspect initiatives like the UNESCO convention for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage demonstrate that this kind of activities also have a significant importance for the safeguard of cultural heritage and traditional knowledge. In order to meet the UNESCO’s goals and in order to enable the use of local plant resources it is of intrinsic importance to support the local population in going on to produce herbal products of high quality standard. It’s the product which keeps the knowledge alive, otherwise it will disappear in some databases….


  • The use of medicinal plants may not be restricted to medicines only.

  • Medicinal plants which have proven their usefulness during centuries of local application and use may not disappear from the official pharmacopeia.

  • The system of subsidies should foresee special regulations in order to support small farmers in producing herbal products

  • The system of subsidies should foresee specific support to those who contribute to the preservation of local traditional cultural knowledge and heritage

  • A European wide network should be established which brings together all stakeholders involved in the local production and use of medicinal and aromatic plants.


Contribution of Simone Matouch to the “Which Europe do we want?” initiative in 2009.


Simone Matouch, president of the association “Natur- & Kräuterwerkstatt Lesachtal”, member of Forum Synergies


Scale of intervention : Local

Keywords: Health and well-being, public health

Places: Austria