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Knowledge and valuation of Andean agroforestry species: the role of sex, age, and migration among members of a rural community in Bolivia.

Brandt R, Mathez-Stiefel SL, Lachmuth S, Hensen I, Rist S - J Ethnobiol Ethnomed (2013)

Bottom Line: The age effects possibly result from decreasing ecological apparency of valuable native species, and their substitution by exotic marketable trees,loss of traditional plant uses or the use of other materials (e.g. plastic) instead of wood.These native species should be ecologically sound and selected on their potential to provide subsistence and promising commercial uses.In addition to offering socio-economic and environmental services,agroforestry initiatives using native trees and shrubs can play a crucial role in recovering elements of the lost ancient landscape that still forms part of local people’s collective identity.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute of Biology/Geobotany and Botanical Garden, Martin-Luther-University, Am Kirchtor 1, 06108 Halle/Saale, Germany. regine.brandt@botanik.uni-halle.de.

ABSTRACT

Background: Agroforestry is a sustainable land use method with a long tradition in the Bolivian Andes. A better understanding of people’s knowledge and valuation of woody species can help to adjust actor-oriented agroforestry systems. In this case study, carried out in a peasant community of the Bolivian Andes, we aimed at calculating the cultural importance of selected agroforestry species, and at analysing the intracultural variation in the cultural importance and knowledge of plants according to peasants’ sex, age, and migration.

Methods: Data collection was based on semi-structured interviews and freelisting exercises. Two ethnobotanical indices (Composite Salience, Cultural Importance) were used for calculating the cultural importance of plants. Intracultural variation in the cultural importance and knowledge of plants was detected by using linear and generalised linear (mixed) models.

Results and discussion: The culturally most important woody species were mainly trees and exotic species (e.g.Schinus molle, Prosopis laevigata, Eucalyptus globulus). We found that knowledge and valuation of plants increased with age but that they were lower for migrants; sex, by contrast, played a minor role. The age effects possibly result from decreasing ecological apparency of valuable native species, and their substitution by exotic marketable trees,loss of traditional plant uses or the use of other materials (e.g. plastic) instead of wood. Decreasing dedication to traditional farming may have led to successive abandonment of traditional tool uses, and the overall transformation of woody plant use is possibly related to diminishing medicinal knowledge.

Conclusions: Age and migration affect how people value woody species and what they know about their uses.For this reason, we recommend paying particular attention to the potential of native species, which could open promising perspectives especially for the young migrating peasant generation and draw their interest in agroforestry. These native species should be ecologically sound and selected on their potential to provide subsistence and promising commercial uses. In addition to offering socio-economic and environmental services,agroforestry initiatives using native trees and shrubs can play a crucial role in recovering elements of the lost ancient landscape that still forms part of local people’s collective identity.

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Importance of B. dracunculifolia for the restorationof soil fertility in fallow land. Photograph by R. Brandt.
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Figure 6: Importance of B. dracunculifolia for the restorationof soil fertility in fallow land. Photograph by R. Brandt.

Mentions: Local people tended to give higher cultural importance to trees (e.g. S.molle) than shrubs (e.g. L. graveolens), as demonstrated by bothethnobotanical indices used (Composite S, CI) (Figure 5).This is supported by another study carried out in the same area [4] that revealed that sociocultural plant values increased with plant heightand timber availability. This may be explained by the scarcity of timber needed forfuelwood and construction in the region. However, some frequently-growing shrubs suchas B. dracunculifolia were also intensively used as fuelwood, for livestockfences, and in restoration of soil fertility in fallow land (Figure 6), and were thus highly valued by local people. This suggeststhat cultural importance and use-values of woody plants may not depend on theirlife-form only, but rather on their availability and accessibility (see also [4,8,9,46], especially in the case of frequently-used fuel plants [47]. Furthermore, plants’ specific attributes (e.g. hard wood, tastyfruits) that exclusively meet important subsistence needs increase their culturalimportance [10]. S. molle, P. laevigata, E. globulus, andB. dracunculifolia were the culturally most important species in thestudy area (Figure 5) due to their high socio-economic andcultural values and high ecological apparency. However, in contrast to the nativespecies mentioned, E. globulus was no promising agroforestry species [4] due to its potential negative effects on cultivated crops [48] and the environment (soil, water, biodiversity) [49,50]. Apart from cultural importance, the plants’ ecological values musttherefore also be considered in the assessment of suitable woody species foragroforestry [4].


Knowledge and valuation of Andean agroforestry species: the role of sex, age, and migration among members of a rural community in Bolivia.

Brandt R, Mathez-Stiefel SL, Lachmuth S, Hensen I, Rist S - J Ethnobiol Ethnomed (2013)

Importance of B. dracunculifolia for the restorationof soil fertility in fallow land. Photograph by R. Brandt.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4120936&req=5

Figure 6: Importance of B. dracunculifolia for the restorationof soil fertility in fallow land. Photograph by R. Brandt.
Mentions: Local people tended to give higher cultural importance to trees (e.g. S.molle) than shrubs (e.g. L. graveolens), as demonstrated by bothethnobotanical indices used (Composite S, CI) (Figure 5).This is supported by another study carried out in the same area [4] that revealed that sociocultural plant values increased with plant heightand timber availability. This may be explained by the scarcity of timber needed forfuelwood and construction in the region. However, some frequently-growing shrubs suchas B. dracunculifolia were also intensively used as fuelwood, for livestockfences, and in restoration of soil fertility in fallow land (Figure 6), and were thus highly valued by local people. This suggeststhat cultural importance and use-values of woody plants may not depend on theirlife-form only, but rather on their availability and accessibility (see also [4,8,9,46], especially in the case of frequently-used fuel plants [47]. Furthermore, plants’ specific attributes (e.g. hard wood, tastyfruits) that exclusively meet important subsistence needs increase their culturalimportance [10]. S. molle, P. laevigata, E. globulus, andB. dracunculifolia were the culturally most important species in thestudy area (Figure 5) due to their high socio-economic andcultural values and high ecological apparency. However, in contrast to the nativespecies mentioned, E. globulus was no promising agroforestry species [4] due to its potential negative effects on cultivated crops [48] and the environment (soil, water, biodiversity) [49,50]. Apart from cultural importance, the plants’ ecological values musttherefore also be considered in the assessment of suitable woody species foragroforestry [4].

Bottom Line: The age effects possibly result from decreasing ecological apparency of valuable native species, and their substitution by exotic marketable trees,loss of traditional plant uses or the use of other materials (e.g. plastic) instead of wood.These native species should be ecologically sound and selected on their potential to provide subsistence and promising commercial uses.In addition to offering socio-economic and environmental services,agroforestry initiatives using native trees and shrubs can play a crucial role in recovering elements of the lost ancient landscape that still forms part of local people’s collective identity.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute of Biology/Geobotany and Botanical Garden, Martin-Luther-University, Am Kirchtor 1, 06108 Halle/Saale, Germany. regine.brandt@botanik.uni-halle.de.

ABSTRACT

Background: Agroforestry is a sustainable land use method with a long tradition in the Bolivian Andes. A better understanding of people’s knowledge and valuation of woody species can help to adjust actor-oriented agroforestry systems. In this case study, carried out in a peasant community of the Bolivian Andes, we aimed at calculating the cultural importance of selected agroforestry species, and at analysing the intracultural variation in the cultural importance and knowledge of plants according to peasants’ sex, age, and migration.

Methods: Data collection was based on semi-structured interviews and freelisting exercises. Two ethnobotanical indices (Composite Salience, Cultural Importance) were used for calculating the cultural importance of plants. Intracultural variation in the cultural importance and knowledge of plants was detected by using linear and generalised linear (mixed) models.

Results and discussion: The culturally most important woody species were mainly trees and exotic species (e.g.Schinus molle, Prosopis laevigata, Eucalyptus globulus). We found that knowledge and valuation of plants increased with age but that they were lower for migrants; sex, by contrast, played a minor role. The age effects possibly result from decreasing ecological apparency of valuable native species, and their substitution by exotic marketable trees,loss of traditional plant uses or the use of other materials (e.g. plastic) instead of wood. Decreasing dedication to traditional farming may have led to successive abandonment of traditional tool uses, and the overall transformation of woody plant use is possibly related to diminishing medicinal knowledge.

Conclusions: Age and migration affect how people value woody species and what they know about their uses.For this reason, we recommend paying particular attention to the potential of native species, which could open promising perspectives especially for the young migrating peasant generation and draw their interest in agroforestry. These native species should be ecologically sound and selected on their potential to provide subsistence and promising commercial uses. In addition to offering socio-economic and environmental services,agroforestry initiatives using native trees and shrubs can play a crucial role in recovering elements of the lost ancient landscape that still forms part of local people’s collective identity.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus