Cultural and livelihood relationship between medicinal trees at-risk and indigenous people of Madhya Pradesh
Background: Indigenous communities depended on forest resources for food, shelter, health care and cultural need throughout the world. Such association existed in central India too where many medicinal trees are at risk due to their worrisome conservation status. Therefore, the study was taken to understand the dependency of indigenous people on medicinal trees at-risk (MTR) for livelihood, medicinal use, and their cultural need.
Methods: Qualitative methods of research (questionnaire survey, structured interview and focus group discussion) along with quantitative method (field survey: crop availability and regeneration status) were employed.
Results: Medicinal trees were the part of their culture as they used them in family functions and religious ceremonies. The MTR products were used for health care along with some livelihood options (sale of gums and resins), though with low dependency. Two cross culture use models showing people-MTR relationship could be developed using basic and published information: i. plant-ailment-community and ii. ailment-plant-community. Indigenous Traditional Knowledge (ITK) related to these trees was disappearing due to noninvolvement of youth in traditional occupation, reduced use and resources were on decline due to poor regeneration, climatic events-based (drought, flash flood) and natural (stem hollowness) damages.
Conclusion: Though the dependency was low, survival of MTR as well as ITK was in danger. For their conservation, a mechanism of shared management responsibility and revisit of nistar policy (free of cost use of forest resources) is suggested along with detail recording and promotion of ITK.
Keywords: Traditional knowledge; cross cultural model; tree damages; regeneration status; management
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