, Volume 18, Issue 9, pp 2263-2281
Date: 06 Feb 2009

Steps towards sustainable harvest of Ophiocordyceps sinensis in Bhutan

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The insect-pathogenic fungus Ophiocordyceps sinensis (better known as Cordyceps sinensis) is harvested over much of the Himalayan plateau as a highly prized remedy in traditional Oriental medicine. Over the past 10 years its financial value has increased dramatically, with collectors paid as much as US $12,500 kg−1 for top-quality material. This is causing significant distortion to local economies, and there is widespread concern that the current rate of collection is unsustainable. This paper introduces the fungus and its insect hosts, documents some of the biological and social constraints to achieving sustainability, describes the socioeconomic climate within which harvest and sale occurs in Bhutan, and details the measures put in place by the Royal Government of Bhutan to promote wise management of this valuable natural resource.