Prior to initiating a collection expedition, the geographical distribution and population density of the target medicinal plant species should be determined. Distance from home base and quality of the target plant(s) available are factors to be considered. When the collection sites have been identified, local and/or national collection permits should be obtained, as indicated in section 3.1.
Essential information on the target species (taxonomy, distribution, phenology, genetic diversity, reproductive biology and ethnobotany) should be obtained. Data about environmental conditions, including topography, geology, soil, climate and vegetation at the prospective collecting site(s), should be collated and presented in a collection management plan.
Research on the morphology of the target medicinal plant species and variability of its populations should be carried out in order to develop a "search image" for the species. Copies of photographs and other illustrations of the target medicinal plant(s) from books and herbarium specimens, and ethnographical information (common or local names) of the target species and plant parts are useful field instruments, especially for untrained workers. Botanical keys and other taxonomic identification aids are useful at collection sites where either related species, or unrelated species of similar morphological characteristics, may be found.
Rapid, safe and dependable transportation to carry personnel, equipment, supplies and collected medicinal plant materials should be arranged in advance.
A collection team familiar with good collecting techniques, transport, and handling of equipment and medicinal plant materials, including cleaning, drying and storage, should be assembled. Training of personnel should be conducted regularly. The responsibilities of all those involved in collection should be clearly set out in a written document. All stakeholders, in particular, manufacturers, traders and government, are accountable for the conservation and management of the targeted medicinal plant species.
The social impact of field collection on local communities should be examined and the ecological impact of field collection activities should be monitored over time. The stability of the natural habitat(s) and the maintenance of sustainable populations of the target species in the collection area(s) must be ensured.