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Diversity and Traditional Knowledge Concerning Wild Food Species in a Locally Managed Forest in Nepal

Abstract

This study documents wild food species in a locally managed forest by the inhabitants of nine villages in the Dolakha district, Nepal. It presents data on their diversity, and traditional knowledge on plant use, propagation and local domestication collected through household and key informant interviews, forest transects inventories and herbaria verifications. Sixty-two wild food plants belonging to 36 families were recorded; most of them (80%) have multiple uses. Many of the food plants are herbaceous (24 species) and produce fruits for consumption (46%). Most of the food plants are consumed by the local communities as snacks, and are supplementary and nutritionally important especially prior to the harvest of staple foods. Elder women (>35 years) are the most knowledgeable group, being able to describe the use of 65% of all edibles as compared to only 23% described by young men (<35 years). Many villagers also possess knowledge on the modes of propagation for the food plants that may be used in the process of domestication. The local communities expressed a strong desire for the establishment of community enterprises based on the wild food resources for long-term income generation sources. To accomplish this, development of collective co-operative strategies based on assessments of the biology, size of harvestable population, sustainable harvesting techniques, and marketing value and demand of promising species would be required. Moreover domestication potential based on species identified in this paper and other species that local communities have knowledge on ought to be encouraged through incentive and policy interventions.

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Correspondence to Prasanna M. Shrestha.

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Shrestha, P., Dhillion, S. Diversity and Traditional Knowledge Concerning Wild Food Species in a Locally Managed Forest in Nepal. Agroforest Syst 66, 55–63 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10457-005-6642-4

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Key words

  • Biodiversity
  • Community forestry
  • Domestication
  • Food security
  • Montane resource