Plant biodiversity and ethnobotany inside the projected impact area of the Upper Seti Hydropower Project, Western Nepal
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A survey of plant biodiversity and ethnobotany was conducted along the Seti river banks in the Tanahun district of Western Nepal. This area, home of the Magar ethnic group, will be impacted by a major hydropower project, currently under feasibility study. The objective of the study was to document plant biodiversity and ethnobotany in order to suggest appropriate conservation and management strategies. Botanical sampling was conducted inside quadrats and along transects. A total of 221 plant species were recorded in the study area, distributed as herbs (80 species), trees (68), shrubs (28), climbers (19), pteridophytes (18), lianas (5), and epiphytes (3). Twelve of the inventoried species figure in one or more conservation categories identified by various national or international agencies. Group discussions and personal interviews allowed to find out that 43% of the species were ethnobotanically important for the local people and that most were used as medicine, food, or timber. We propose specific species for sustainable use programs based on certain criteria. The area is very important in terms of plant biodiversity and ethnobotany, and hence, immediate implementation of conservation measures is recommended to maintain the high social, ecological and economic values of the area.