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Knowledge, Use, and Management of the Babassu Palm (Attalea speciosa Mart. ex Spreng) in the Araripe Region (Northeastern Brazil)

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Knowledge, Use, and Management of the Babassu Palm (Attalea speciosa Mart. ex Spreng) in the Araripe Region (Northeastern Brazil)

Considerable diversity has been observed in the uses of the palm species Attalea speciosa Mart. ex Spreng, including its use in human and animal food, handicrafts, construction, medicine, cosmetics, religious items, and commercial purposes. This study assesses the relationships among the knowledge, use, and socioeconomic characteristics of extractivists who utilize this species in two rural communities (Macaúba and Saco smallholdings) located in the Araripe region of northeastern Brazil. Semistructured interviews were conducted with the palm extractivists identified through snowball sampling. In Macaúba, 50 uses for A. speciosa were identified, whereas in Saco, 41 uses were identified. These uses were grouped into eight different categories, the most prominent of which were handicrafts, construction, and human food. The monthly income of extractivists at Macaúba was significantly and directly related to the number of known uses. A significant and inverse relationship was found between the age of the Macaúba extractivists and number of known uses in the community, demonstrating that there is a trend toward increased knowledge of the palm among the younger members of this community. In the Saco community, there was no significant correlation observed between the extractivist's age, monthly family income, or commercial income from babassu and the number of known uses. Neither was a significant relationship observed between knowledge and current practices regarding A. speciosa in either of the two communities studied. Babassu palm is considered a resource of high commercial importance by the residents of these communities, and its use as a subsistence resource was uncommon. However, access to technology may replace some of the traditional uses of babassu and influence the type of use practiced in the community.

Conhecimento, uso e manejo da palmeira babaçu (Attalea speciosa Mart. ex Spreng) no Nordeste do Brasil

Uma diversidade considerável de usos tem sido registrada para a palmeira Attalea speciosa Mart. ex Spreng, como na alimentação humana e de animais, na fabricação de artesanatos, construção, usos medicinais, cosméticos e religiosos. Objetivou-se verificar as relações entre conhecimento, uso e características socioeconômicas dos extrativistas dessa espécie em duas comunidades rurais localizadas na região do Araripe, Nordeste do Brasil: Sítio Macaúba e Sítio Saco. Foram realizadas entrevistas semiestruturadas com todos os extrativistas da palmeira identificados por meio da técnica de amostragem “bola de neve.” No Sítio Macaúba foram identificados 50 usos para A. speciosa, e no Sítio Saco identificamos 41 usos, distribuídos em oito categorias de uso. Aquelas que receberam mais destaque foram as categorias artesanato, construção e alimentação humana. As folhas e os frutos foram as partes úteis mais citadas pelos informantes, evidenciando uso mais intenso dessas estruturas. A renda mensal familiar dos extrativistas do Sítio Macaúba teve influência significativa e diretamente relacionada sobre o número de usos conhecidos, sugerindo que os informantes exploram o babaçu para complemento de renda mensal e não como única fonte para subsistência. No entanto, foi verificada relação significativa e inversamente relacionada entre a idade dos extrativistas dessa mesma comunidade e o número de usos conhecidos, sugerindo que há uma tendência de predomínio do conhecimento sobre a palmeira entre os mais jovens dessa comunidade. No Sítio Saco não houve correlação significativa entre idade, renda mensal familiar e renda da comercialização do babaçu com o número de usos conhecidos, sugerindo que outros fatores devem estar influenciando esse conhecimento. Não houve relação significativa entre o conhecimento e as práticas atuais de A. speciosa em nenhuma das duas comunidades estudadas. Foi possível verificar que a palmeira babaçu é considerada um recurso de elevada importância comercial para os moradores das comunidades estudadas, sendo os usos relacionados à subsistência, pouco frequentes. O acesso à tecnologias pode substituir alguns dos usos tradicionais do babaçu, além de induzir uma seleção no tipo de uso que é praticado na comunidade.

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank the residents of the Macaúba and Saco communities, especially those who directly contributed to this research by sharing their knowledge, the staff of the Casa de Apoio Santa Rita-ICMBio for logistical support, all members of the Laboratory of Applied and Theoretical Ethnobiology (Laboratório de Etnobiologia Aplicada e Teórica–LEA-UFRPE), and all members of the Laboratory of Human Ecology and Ethnobotany (Laboratório de Ecologia Humana e Etnobotânica–LEHE-UFSC). They also thank the Pernambuco Research Foundation (Fundação de Amparo à Ciência e Tecnologia do Estado de Pernambuco–FACEPE) for the financial support (APQ-1264-2.05/10) and the masters scholarship awarded to the first author, housing allowance for the internship in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina State, and support of the PRONEM project. They also thank the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior–CAPES) for the financial support granted through the Brazilian Post-doctoral Program (Programa Nacional de Pós-doutorado–PNPD)/process 23038.008230/2010-75 and Brazilian National Council of Scientific and Technological Development (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico–CNPq) for the fellowships granted to the authors.

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Almeida Campos, J.L., da Silva, T.L.L., Albuquerque, U.P. et al. Knowledge, Use, and Management of the Babassu Palm (Attalea speciosa Mart. ex Spreng) in the Araripe Region (Northeastern Brazil). Econ Bot 69, 240–250 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12231-015-9315-x

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