Endorsement of Ethnomedicinal Knowledge Towards Conservation in the Context of Changing Socio-Economic and Cultural Values of Traditional Communities Around Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttarakhand, India
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The study of the interrelationship between ethnomedicinal knowledge and socio-cultural values needs to be studied mainly for the simple reason that culture is not only the ethical imperative for development, it is also the condition of its sustainability; for their exists a symbiotic relationship between habitats and cultures. The traditional communities around Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary of Uttarakhand state in India have a rich local health care tradition, which has been in practice for the past hundreds of years. The present study documents the Ethnomedicinal uses of 54 medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) along with their botanical and vernacular names, family, habit, habitat, threat status, collection season, purpose of collection, quantity, conservation practices, market potential and part(s) used in traditional health care system. The documented species belonging to 38 families have been used to cure more than 47 different kinds of ailments. These MAPs collected from the wild in a particular season and used as per the method prescribed by traditional herbal healers (Vaidyas) that provide effective results. Perception of local people during field trips based on socio-demographic characters showed them to prefer herbal system of treatments and they understood the status of traditional health care systems in the region. The study reveals that approximately 70 % population of the study area depend on herbal systems of treatments and preferred to visit Vaidyas for curing a variety of ailments because the traditional system of medicine is one of the most important prevailing systems in the region where modern health care facilities are rare or in very poor conditions. The organic cultivation practices of selected MAPs were demonstrated to rural inhabitants through capacity building training program and participatory action research framework approaches for sustainability and enhancement of livelihood security. A series of workshops and village level meetings on traditional health care systems were organized and forming/registered a strong association of Vaidyas for making their traditional system of health care more practical and effective. The study emphasizes the potentials of the ethnomedicinal research, conservation practices, socio-cultural and religious ethics for promoting traditional plants based treatments and also the need to document the indigenous knowledge for scientific validation before its industrial application.