The Use of Hemiepiphytes as Craft Fibres by Indigenous Communities in the Colombian Amazon

Maria Paula Balcázar Vargas, Tinde van Andel

Abstract


Aerial roots of hemiepiphytes are used throughout the Amazon Basin for house construction, basketry, traps and furniture. Here we describe how 15 species of hemiepiphytes
are extracted by six indigenous groups in the Colombian
Amazon for traditional artefacts, commercial crafts and as raw material for the furniture industry. Indigenous classification systems, use preferences, and the influence of the craft trade on indigenous livelihoods are discussed. The craft trade seems to improve the living conditions of local communities by making them less dependent from local guerrilla and coca production. However, we seriously question the sustainability of current fibre extraction. Designing
adequate management plans for commercial hemiepiphytes
is essential to guarantee the future supply of these valuable non-timber forest products.

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Ethnobotany Research and Applications (ISSN 1547-3465) is published online by the Department of Ethnobotany, Institute of Botany, Ilia State University.
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