Effect and impact of indigenous knowledge on local biodiversity and social resilience in Pamir region of Tajik and Afghan Badakhshan.
Keywords:Indigenous knowledge, effect, impact, conservation, biodiversity, social resilience, medicinal plants, food security, Pamir, Badakhshan
Background: Pamir mountain communities hold vast knowledge of plants important for health and food security. However, little research is conducted on this topic.
Methods: This study explores the contribution of indigenous knowledge of mountain dwellers and assesses how it contributes to biodiversity conservation, adaptation, and social/community resilience in the Pamir region of Tajik and Afghan Badakhshans. Secondary sources on medicinal plants were reviewed and then, 280 individual interviews and three focus group discussions were conducted in four border districts of Afghan and Tajik Badakhshans respectively during 2017-18. Using a multi-stage random sampling technique, first, research districts, then, villages/valleys and last, households were selected, limiting the sample size to 20% in all stages due to vast study area.
Results: Pamir mountain communities depend on natural environment for their livelihood needs, particularly using plants for remedies and food. Respondents used 128 plant species belonging to 63 families and 81 genera. The most marketable medicinal plants grew far away from settlements indicating pressure and over-harvesting of plants. Local communities’ knowledge of plant usage for food, therapeutics and traditional rituals is key to community/social resilience and conservation of plants within farmlands and natural environment.
Conclusion: Medicinal plants decreased substantially in their natural habitats over the past 15 years, which may negatively impact people’s traditional health systems and food security. However, knowledge about biodiversity and importance of plants has increased. Participatory conservation strategies for medicinal plants and associated indigenous knowledge is necessary for the benefits of present and future generations of Pamir mountain communities.
Key words: Indigenous knowledge, conservation, biodiversity, social resilience, medicinal plants, food security, Pamir, Badakhshan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan
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