Human Ecology

, Volume 40, Issue 6, pp 909–930 | Cite as

Are the Young Less Knowledgeable? Local Knowledge of Natural Remedies and Its Transformations in the Andean Highlands

  • Sarah-Lan Mathez-Stiefel
  • Regine Brandt
  • Susanne Lachmuth
  • Stephan Rist
Article

Abstract

A widespread concern among ethnobiologists is the rapid process of erosion of indigenous environmental knowledge observed worldwide. This paper examines the ongoing transformations of knowledge about natural remedies in the Quechua-speaking Andes. Freelisting exercises and interviews were conducted with 36 households at Bolivian and Peruvian study sites. (Generalized) linear mixed-effects models were used to analyze the effects of age on knowledge about medicinal plants, animals, minerals, and their uses. Our study demonstrates that younger participants knew as much about natural remedies as their elders. However, proportional knowledge about some medicinal use categories of natural remedies varied with age. We conclude that knowledge about natural remedies is generally not being lost at the study sites. Nevertheless, it is undergoing transformations in terms of specific medicinal uses. A careful understanding of these complex transformation processes is needed to better orient initiatives for the conservation of biocultural diversity in the Andes and elsewhere.

Keywords

Ethnobiology Indigenous environmental knowledge Traditional medicine Bolivia Peru Andes 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah-Lan Mathez-Stiefel
    • 1
  • Regine Brandt
    • 2
  • Susanne Lachmuth
    • 2
  • Stephan Rist
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Development and EnvironmentUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Institute of Geobotany and Botanical GardenMartin-Luther-UniversityHalleGermany

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