Economic Botany

, Volume 58, Issue 1, pp 38–57 | Cite as

Conservation of useful plants: An evaluation of local priorities from two indigenous communities in Eastern Panama

Article

Abstract

On both theoretical and practical grounds, respect for, and inclusion of, local decision-making processes is advocated in conservation, yet little is known about the conservation priorities on local territories. We employed interviews and ecological inventories in two villages in order to (1) evaluate the local perception of the conservation status of important plant resources; (2) compare patterns of plant use; and (3) compare perceived conservation status with population structure and abundance in the field. One-third of the 35 species examined were perceived to be threatened or declining. These were predominantly used locally for construction or sold commercially, but were not necessarily rare in the field. The destructiveness of harvest was the most consistent predictor of conservation status in both villages. Contrasting patterns were found in the two villages for the frequency of plant harvest and the relationship of this variable with conservation status. We suggest that local knowledge is an efficient means to rapidly assess the status of a large number of species, whereas population structure analysis provides an initial evaluation of the impact of harvest for selected species.

Key Words

Conservation comparative ethnobotany indigenous territories local knowledge Panama population structure rapid assessment useful plants 

Conservación de Plantas Útiles: Una Evaluación de Prioridades Locales en dos Localidades del Este de PanamÁ

Resumen

Tanto desde una perspectiva teórica como práctica el respeto e inclusión de los procesos locales de toma de decisiones es una forma en que la conservación puede ser promovida. Sin embargo, poco se sabe sobre las prioridades de conservación en territorios indígenas. En el presente estudio se emplearon entrevistas e inventarios ecológicos en dos localidades indígenas para (1) evaluar la percepción de los habitantes locales sobre el estado de conservación de recursos vegetales importantes; (2) comparar los patrones de uso de plantas; y (3) comparar la percepción del estado de conservación con la estructura de las poblaciones y la abundancia de las especies en el campo. Una tercera parte de las 35 especies estudiadas fueron percibidas como amenazadas o en proceso de declinación. Se trata de plantas utilizadas principalmente como materiales de construcción o que aportan productos que son comercializados, pero que no son necesariamente escasas en el campo. En ambas localidades la variable que predijo el estado de conservación de forma más consistente fue el grado de destrucción de las plantas asociado a las prócticas de cosecha. Encontramos patrones contrastantes entre las dos localidades con respecto a la frecuencia de cosecha y ala relación de esta variable con el estado de conservación de las plantas. Sugerimos que el uso de conocimientos locales es una forma eficiente de evaluar con rapidez el estado de un gran número de especies, en tanto que el análisis de la estructura de poblaciones aporta una evaluación inicial sobre el impacto de la cosecha para algunas especies de inters’e.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Balee, W., ed. 1998. Advances in historical ecology. Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  2. Bernard, H. R. 1995. Research methods in anthropology: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Altamira Press, Walnut Creek, CA.Google Scholar
  3. Borcard, D., P. Legendre, andP. Drapeau. 1992. Partialling out the spatial component of ecological variation. Ecology 73(3): 1045–1055.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Colchester, M. 2000. Self-determination or environmental determinism for indigenous peoples in tropical forest conservation. Conservation Biology 14(5):1365–1367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Condit, R., R. Sukumar, S. P. Hubbell, andR. B.Foster. 1998. Predicting population trends from size distributions: A direct test in a tropical tree community. American Naturalist 152:495–509.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Croat, T. B. 1978. Flora of Barro Colorado Island. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA.Google Scholar
  7. Dalle, S., H. Lopez, D. Diaz, P. Legendre, andC. Potvin. 2002. Spatial distribution and habitats of useful plants: An initial assessment for conservation on an indigenous territory, Panama. Biodiversity and Conservation 11(4):637–667.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Davis, S. D., V. H. Heywood, andA. C. Hamilton, eds. 1997. Centres of plant diversity: a guide and strategy for their conservation, 3. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and ICUN—World Conservation Union, Cambridge, UK.Google Scholar
  9. Frei, B., O. Sticher, andM. Heinrich. 2000. Zapotec and Mixe use of tropical habitats for securing medicinal plants in Mexico. Economic Botany 54(1):73–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gadgil, M., F. Berkes, andC. Folke. 1993. Indigenous knowledge for biodiversity conservation. Ambio 22(2-3): 151–156.Google Scholar
  11. Gentry, A. H. 1996. A field guide to the families and genera of woody plants of northwest South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru). The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  12. Groombridge, B. 1992. Global biodiversity: Status of the Earth’s living resources. Chapman and Hall, London.Google Scholar
  13. Hall, P., andK. Bawa. 1993. Methods to assess the impact of extraction of non-timber tropical forest products on plant populations. Economic Botany47(3):234–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hellier, A., A. C. Newton, andS. Ochoa Gaona. 1999. Use of indigenous knowledge for rapidly assessing trends in biodiversity: A case study from Chiapas, Mexico. Biodiversity and Conservation 8: 869–889.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Henderson, A., G. Galeano, andR. Bernai. 1995. Field guide to the palms of the Americas. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.Google Scholar
  16. Herlihy, P. H. 1986. A cultural geography of the Embera and Wounan (Choco) Indians of Darien, Panama, with emphasis on recent village formation and economic diversification. Doctoral dissertation, Louisiana State University, New Orleans.Google Scholar
  17. Instituto Geográfico Nacional. 1988. Atlas Nacional de la Republica de Panamá. Instituto Geográfico Nacional “Tommy Guardia,” Panamá.Google Scholar
  18. Joyal, E. 1996. The palm has its time: An ethnoecology ofSabal uresana in Sonora, Mexico. Economic Botany50(4):446–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kohn, E. O. 1992. Some observations on the use of medicinal plants from primary and secondary growth by the Runa of Eastern lowland Ecuador. Journal of Ethnobiology 12(1):141–152.Google Scholar
  20. Legendre, P., R. Galzin, andM. L. Harmelin-Vivien. 1997. Relating behavior to habitat: Solutions to the fourth-corner problem. Ecology 78(2):547–562.Google Scholar
  21. Lopez, H., andS. Dalle. 2001. El desarrollo sostenible en la reserva biológica y comarca Kuna de Wargandí, Darién. Pages 220–227 in Stanley Heckadon Moreno, ed., Panama: Puente Biológico. Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales, Panama.Google Scholar
  22. Lykke, A. M. 1998. Assessment of species composition change in savanna vegetation by means of woody plants’ size class distributions and local information. Biodiversity and Conservation 7:1261–1275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. — 2000. Local perceptions of vegetation change and priorities for conservation of woody-savanna vegetation in Senegal. Journal of Environmental Management 59:107–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Murali, K. S., Uma Shankar, R. Uma Shaanker, K. N. Ganeshaiah, andK. S. Bawa. 1996. Extraction of non-timber forest products in the forests of Biligiri Rangan Hills, India. 2. Impact of NTFP extraction on regeneration, population structure, and species composition. Economic Botany 50:252–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Norton, B. G. 2001. Conservation biology and environmental values: Can there be a universal earth ethic? Pages 71–102 in C. Potvin, M. Kraenzel, and G. Seutin, eds., Protecting biological diversity: Roles and responsibilities. McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal.Google Scholar
  26. O’Hara, J. L. 1998. Monitoring nontimber forest product harvest for ecological sustainability: A case study of Huano(Sabal mauritiiformis) in the Río Bravo Conservation and Management Area, Belize. Pages 195–208 in R. B. Primack, D. B. Bray, H. A. Galletti, and I. Ponciano, eds., Timber, tourists, and temples: Conservation and development in the Maya Forest of Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico. Island Press, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  27. Peres, C. A. 1994. Indigenous reserves and nature conservation in Amazonian forests. Conservation Biology 8(2):586–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Peters, C. M. 1996. Observations on the sustainable exploitation of non-timber tropical forest products: An ecologist’s perspective. Pages 19–39 in M. Ruiz Pérez and J. E. M. Arnold, eds., Current issues in non-timber forest products research. Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia.Google Scholar
  29. Pinard, M. 1993. Impacts of stem harvesting on populations ofIriartea deltoidea (Palmae) in an extractive reserve in Acre, Brazil. Biotropica 25(1): 2–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pinedo-Vasquez, M., D. Zarin, andP. Jipp. 1992. Community forest and lake reserves in the Peruvian Amazon: A local alternative for sustainable use of tropical forests. Pages 79–86 in D. C. Nepstad and S. Schwartzman, eds., Non-timber products from tropical forests: evaluation of a conservation and development strategy. Advances in Economic Botany. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY.Google Scholar
  31. —,Zarin, P. Jipp, andJ. Chota-Inuma. 1990. Use-values of tree species in a communal forest reserve in Northeast Peru. Conservation Biology 4(4):405–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Potvin, C., R. J.-P., G. Patenaude, andJ. Hutton. 2002. The role of indigenous peoples in conservation actions: a case study of cultural differences and conservation priorities. Pages 159–176 in P. Le Prestre, ed., Governing global biodiversity: The evolution and implementation of the Convention of Biological Diversity. Global Environmental Governance Series. Ashgate Publishing Company, A1dershot, England.Google Scholar
  33. Prance, G. T., W. Balée, B. M. Boom, andR. L. Carneiro. 1987. Quantitative ethnobotany and the case for conservation in Amazonia. Conservation Biology l(4):296–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Redford, K. H. 1996. Not seeing animals for the trees: The many values of wild animals in forest ecosystems. Pages 41–57 in M. Ruiz-Perez and J. E. M. Arnold, eds., Current issues in non-timber forest products research. Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia.Google Scholar
  35. Salvador, M. L., ed. 1997. The art of being Kuna. UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Los Angeles.Google Scholar
  36. Schwartzman, S., A. Moreira, andD. Nepstad. 2000. Rethinking tropical forest conservation: Perils in parks. Conservation Biology 14(5):1351–1357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stepp, J. R., andD. E. Moerman. 2001. The importance of weeds in ethnopharmacology. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 75(1):25–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. ter Braak, C. J. F., andP. Smilauer. 1998. CANO-CO release 4 reference manual and user’s guide to Canoco for Windows—Software for canonical community ordination. Microcomputer Power, Ithaca, NY.Google Scholar
  39. Ticktin, T., G. De la Peña, C. Ilsley, S. Dalle, andT. Johns. 2002. Participatory ethnoecological research for conservation: Lessons from case studies in Mesoamerica. Pages 575–584 in J. R. Stepp, F. S. Wyndham, and R. K. Zarger, eds., Ethnobiology and biocultural diversity: Proceedings of the seventh international congress of ethnobiology. University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA.Google Scholar
  40. Tosi, J. A. 1971. Zonas de vida: Una base ecológica para investigaciones silvícolas e inventariación forestal en la Republica de Panamá. FO: SF/PAN 6 No. 2 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.Google Scholar
  41. Ventocilla, J., V. Núñez, F. Herrera, H. Herrera, andM. Chapin. 1995. Los indígenas kunas y la conservación ambiental. Mesoamérica 29:95–124.Google Scholar
  42. Voeks, R. A. 1996. Tropical forest healers and habitat preference. Economic Botany 50(4):381–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wali, A. 1993. The transformation of a frontier: State and regional relationships in Panama, 1972-1990. Human Organization 52(2): 115–129.Google Scholar
  44. Western, D., M. Wright, andS. C. Strum, eds. 1994. Natural connections: Perspectives in community-based conservation. Island Press, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  45. Winterhaider, B., andF. Lu. 1997. A forager-resource population ecology model and implications for indigenous conservation. Conservation Biology 11(6):1354–1364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden Press, Bronx, NY 10458-5126 U.S.A 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant ScienceMacdonald Campus of McGill UniversitySte-Anne-de-BellevueCanada
  2. 2.Biology DepartmentMcGill UniversityMontréalCanada

Personalised recommendations