Who we are

The Cactus and Succulent Plants Specialist Group (CSSG) aims to promote the conservation of succulent plants across the globe. We do so by guiding new research, acting as a source of information and education, hosting regular workshops, and more. In mid-2017 we partnered with the Desert Botanical Garden in Arizona, USA, which acts as a host institution to aid us in leading, promoting, and furthering cactus and succulent conservation efforts worldwide.

Our history

Established in 1984, the CSSG belongs to a wide network of working groups managed by the IUCN , the global authority on the threats facing the natural world (catalogued via the IUCN Red List ), and the conservation measures needed to protect it. The CSSG was jointly established by the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission (SSC) and the International Organization of Succulent Plant Study (IOS)—this latter group has made great contributions to plant conservation via its published Code of Conduct for plant collectors and researchers, available here .

The IUCN SSC specialist groups and task forces bring together thousands of volunteers, all of whom are passionate about protecting our planet; the CSSG in particular comprises dedicated members including highly knowledgeable plant-lovers, professional botanists, experts in plant taxonomy, ecology, and propagation, experts in legislation, information management, conservation planning, and more.

Our partnership

The Desert Botanical Garden (DBG) is based in Phoenix, Arizona.

Established in 1939, it aims to educate and inspire hundreds of thousands of visitors every year on the importance of protecting and preserving the natural beauty of the American desert. In mid-2017 the CSSG held a workshop at DBG, with the shared goals of producing an authoritative list of cactus names to clean up the family’s complex taxonomy, to globally assess the risks facing the agave family, and to form a partnership to help these and future aims come to fruition.

Our goals

  • Understanding the taxonomy of succulent plants via field research.
  • Assessing the threats and extinction risks facing the cactus family.
  • One of our major goals and undertakings has been assessing the risks facing the cactus family (Cactaceae) as part of the Global Cactus Assessment. This was completed in late 2015 and the findings were sobering, revealing the cactus family to be the Red List’s fifth most threatened group of living things on the planet. Of the 1,478 species assessed, 31% were classified as threatened. Read more here.
  • Increasing both in situ and ex situ protection for succulent plant species.

    We aim to further develop networks of protected areas—regions of the planet that are especially important and unique in terms of conservation value—to protect succulent plant species within their natural habitats (in situ). We also aim to coordinate and manage conservation efforts where species are removed from their habitat and protected elsewhere (ex situ), in locations such as botanical gardens.

  • Improving national legislation of threatened succulent species, and bettering trade controls to counter the various risks and exploitation they face.
  • Better educating colleagues, the public, industry, policymakers, and others on the importance and value of succulents, and on how we should conserve and use such species sustainably.