A Multivariate Model of Biocultural Conservation of Medicinal, Aromatic and Cosmetic (MAC) Plants in Indonesia

Jan L. Slikkerveer


One of the major contributions of quantitative ethnobotany as a relatively new approach to the study, analysis and interpretation of ethnobotanical field data has been the provision of valuable information on complicated human-plant relationships, particularly relevant for improved policy
planning of plant resource management in the tropics.
In addition, quantitative ethnobotany has shown to facilitate
the truly comparative study of indigenous knowledge and use of plants by different socio-cultural groups and to provide a reliable basis for the assessment of quantitative
impacts of human activities on plants and ecosystems.
In the light of the current efforts to build bridges with traditional knowledge, another significant, albeit less studied
aspect of the application of a quantitative approach in ethnobotany refers to its increased capacity to strengthen the ‘scientific’ value of results for the interpretation, understanding
and prediction of patterns and processes in human-
plant interactions. As in the related ‘knowledge-behavior-
belief’ complex, the latter component still remains problematic for many Western-trained scientists, this paper
seeks to further develop a multivariate model of biocultural
conservation behavior on the basis of current ongoing
research on traditional knowledge and use of MAC pants - jamu - in Sunda, West Java, that could help to bridge the gap. In this model, such ‘subjective’ individual
factors of perceptions, cosmologies and belief systems are statistically transformed into ‘objective’ system variables
for analysis that eventually will enhance the applicability
of the outcome variables for improved biocultural conservation projects in the research area, and as such, advance its ‘scientific’ representation.

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