In general succulent plants are relatively distinctive within national floras, and due to their horticultural attraction, wild populations have been widely sought after and exploited. As a consequence, where the laws relate to collection and trade, succulents may be quite well represented in national conservation legislation for plants. Nevertheless, the lack of basic inventory and assessment of conservation status for succulent plant species limits the development of species conservation legislation in many countries. This is particularly the case in South America where, in general, laws protecting plant species restrict collection and export of a wide range of plants but rarely protect individual succulent plant species. Madagascar is another important succulent-rich country which has no specific legislation protecting rare and threatened succulent species. The USA currently has the most comprehensive legal protection for succulent plant species in the wild. The Endangered Species Act (1973) (ESA) currently protects 24 native cacti and two succulent listed as Threatened or Endangered as shown in Table 2.1. The ESA prohibits interstate or international trade in listed plants without a permit. The removal of listed plants from lands under federal jurisdiction is also prohibited without a permit.
Habitat conservation is covered by section 7 of the ESA. Federal agencies are required to ensure that any actions they fund, authorise, or undertake are not likely to jeopardise listed species. Another legal requirement under ESA is the preparation of recovery plans for individual species. These include positive measures to enhance the survival of listed species in the wild through management of wild populations and reintroduction
Table 2.1 Threatened succulents and cacti listed on the US Endangered Species Act (as of
30 September 1996)
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