, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 367-380

Nontimber Forest Product Use in Two Human Populations from Northwest Patagonia: A Quantitative Approach

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Abstract

The ancestral tradition of gathering nontimber products in the Andean forests of Patagonia seems to be on the verge of disappearing. Edible wild plant knowledge and differential patterns of use have been compared in two populations of different economic and cultural backgrounds—a small rural Mapuche community (Rams), and an outlying population (El Frutillar). The first is located in an herbaceous steppe far from the nearest Andean forest while the second is located outside the town of Bariloche, near the forests of Nahuel Huapi National Park. Semistructured interviews and related ecological variables were compared in both communities. In the past, both communities utilized nontimber forest products from the Andean Temperate forests. However, today, cost and benefit trade-offs appear to affect when and what edible resources are collected. The people from El Frutillar gather fewer wild plants in spite of the high plant abundance and the notorious food scarcity they suffer. The Mapuche people use more nutritious resources, more native species, spend longer traveling to the gathering site, and longer handling time preparing edible plants.