Trade and Conservation of Nepalese Medicinal Plants, Fungi, and Lichen

  • Dipesh PyakurelEmail author
  • Carsten Smith-Hall
  • Indira Bhattarai-Sharma
  • Suresh Kumar Ghimire
Original Article


Trade in Nepalese medicinal plants, fungi, and lichens is huge, yet there is no overview of traded species, impeding the development of targeted and appropriate conservation interventions. This study intends to identify all traded species from Nepal, analyze their distribution patterns, and assess their vulnerability, none of which has been done before. Contemporary data on traded species were obtained from 113 sub-local traders, 105 local traders, and 75 central wholesalers for case year 2014–2015, and historical data from a review of trade-related publications. We recorded 300 species in trade, double that of previous estimates, distributed across 97 families and 197 genera. Most species are concentrated in subtropical and lower temperate regions indicating an economic potential for increased cultivation and domestication at middle altitudes. About 39% of commercial species are formally protected, including through bans on collection and trade of certain species. But this approach does not appear to protect species from commercial harvesting, driven by increasing demand and higher prices. The high-altitude species Nardostachys jatamansi, Rheum australe, and Picrorhiza scrophulariiflora are the most vulnerable traded species, warranting the development of alternative protection mechanisms, e.g., transferring management rights to local communities.

Key Words

Altitudinal distribution Commercialization Illegal trade Himalayas South Asia Vulnerability 

नेपाली जडीबुटीहरुको व्यापार तथा संरक्षण. नेपालबाट बर्षेनी अत्यधिक परिमाणमा जडीबुटीको निर्यात हुने गर्दछ तथापि हालसम्म कुन्˗कुन् प्रजातिका जडीबुटीहरूको व्यापार भैरहेको छ भन्ने यकीन तथ्यांक उपलब्ध नहुँदा तिनको समुचित विकास तथा संरक्षणमा व्यावधान आईरहेको छ । यस अध्ययनको उद्देश्य व्यापारमा रहेका सम्पूर्ण नेपाली जडीबुटीहरूको पहिचान, तिनको वितरणको विश्लेषण र जोखिमको आकलन गर्ने रहेको छ । अध्ययनका क्रममा ११३ गाउँ-स्तरीय व्यापारी, १०५ जिल्लास्तरीय व्यापारी र ७५ जना निर्यातकर्तासँग आर्थिक वर्ष २०१४–२०१५ मा अन्तरवार्ताको माध्यमबाट व्यापारमा रहेका जडीबुटीहरूको तथ्याङ्क संकलन तथा व्यापारसँग सम्बन्धित सन्दर्भ सामग्रीहरूको समीक्षा गरिएको थियो । तथ्याङ्कको विश्लेषण गर्दा नेपालबाट कुल ३०० प्रजातिका जडीबुटीको व्यापार हुने गरेको पाइयो, जुन ९७ परिवार र १९७ जाति अन्तरगतका वनस्पति, झ्याउ तथा ढुसी वर्गका थिए । उपोष्ण र समशितोष्ण जलवायु भएका क्षेत्रहरूमा सबैभन्दा बढी व्यापारिक महत्वका जडीबुटीका प्रजातिहरू पाइयो, जसले नेपालका ति क्षेत्रहरूमा खेती र घरेलुकरणबाट हुन सक्ने आर्थिक सम्भावनालाई संकेत गर्दछ । संकलन र व्यापारका लागि प्रतिबन्धित सहित लगभग ३९% जडीबुटी प्रजातिहरू औपचारिक रूपमा संरक्षणको सूचीमा रहेको पाइयो, तर बढ्दो माग र मूल्यका कारण तिनको निरन्तर व्यापार भैरहेको हुँदा यस दृष्टिकोणबाट मात्र पनि जडीबुटीको संरक्षण हुने देखिदैन । व्यापारका लागि गरिने अति र समयअगावैको संकलनले विशेषगरी उच्च हिमाली भेगमा पाइने जटामसी, पदमचाल र कुट्की सबैभन्दा बढी जोखिममा रहेको पाइनुले पनि वैकल्पिक संरक्षण विधिको विकास— जस्तै जडीबुटीको व्यवस्थापन अधिकार स्थानीय समुदायलाईनै हस्तान्तरण गर्नु पर्ने औचित्यको पुष्टि गर्दछ ।



The authors thank the harvesters, traders, wholesalers, and processors for their time and valuable information; Arjun Chapagain, Kriti Nepal, and Gandhiv Kafle for data collection; Dr. Mariève Pouliot for data management and discussions; and Dr. Abhoy Das for administrative support. The Federation of Community Forestry Users, Nepal, provided logistical support during field work.

Funding Information

The authors acknowledge the Research Committee for Development Research (FFU) of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Grant no. 13–07KU) for financial support. The funding body itself has no direct role in the design of the study, collection, and analysis of the data.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

With every individual participant, we clarified the purpose of the research, including how their contributions would be used and shared. No individual participants can be identified. All interviewees gave their prior informed consent to participation and were informed that they could withdraw at any point. Preliminary results were shared with the trading community through the Project Advisory Committee meetings of the Transiting to Green Growth project. Research adhered to the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, the University of Copenhagen Rules on Good Scientific Practice, and the ethical standards of the International Society for Ethnobiology. All necessary research permits were obtained. By focusing on trade, this study gave voice to actors in an invisible sector. Samples/vouchers were collected with the informed consent of traders. The image of harvesters has been blurred in Fig. 5 to make them unidentifiable.

Supplementary material

12231_2019_9473_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (950 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 949 kb)
12231_2019_9473_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (429 kb)
ESM 2 (PDF 428 kb)

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agribotany and Conservation EcologyAgriculture and Forestry UniversityChitwanNepal
  2. 2.Faculty of Science, Department of Food and Resource EconomicsUniversity of CopenhagenFrederiksberg CDenmark
  3. 3.Central Department of BotanyTribhuvan UniversityKathmanduNepal

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