Scott Ranger ranger at AMERICA.NET
Wed Oct 13 07:58:19 CDT 1999

I'm a bit startled by the reaction to Adolph Ceska's posting of Wagner's
1 in 20 rule. Seems that many of us are attempting to justify collecting
less than 1 in 20. And the justification seems to revolve around the
success of positive identification. There is a rather strong assumption
here, that the positive identification of the organism is the single
highest quality/goal, and that the value of the individual organism is
totally secondary. This line of reasoning has led to many populations
being seriously threatened. The difficulty of determining the 1 in 20
number with moving organisms is certainly there, but it nonetheless
doesn't obviate the value of that organism actually living. The idea
that the best place for an organism is the herbarium is the height of
arrogance from a seriously homocentric perspective.

In 1986 the Plant Conservation Roundtable developed "Conservation
Guidelines" which state:

4. Avoid collecting from a population of fewer than 100 plants.

This is certainly a "higher" standard than 1 in 20, but is one I follow.
The guidelines continue with many other factors to be considered in the
decision as to what to collect, and the Georgia Botanical Society has
adopted them and included it in the bylaws of the society to govern our

I am reminded of a line from Ian McHarg's "Designing With Nature," a
book that has profoundly impacted my thinking from a class of the same
name way back in 1970:

"That which is, is. It is justified only by being."

Please be carefully and considerate in collecting!

Scott Ranger

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