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Tibetan Ethnobotany

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Tibetan Ethnobotany

Jan Salick, Curator of Ethnobotany

Missouri Botanical Garden


Tibetan Ethnobotany

• Background

• Gradient Analyses

• Alpine Ethnobotany

• Landuse

• Change

• Market Study

• Plant Populations

• Sacred Sites

• Capacity Building

• Conservation and SD


Research Site: Eastern Himalayas

“Medicine Mountain”

Meili or Menri



Tibetan Culture


Tibetan People


Khawa Karpo


Tibetan Plants


Traditional medicines


Traditional foods


E

L

E

V

A

T

I

O

N

A

L

2000- 2000

L 7000m

G

R

A

D

I

E

N

T


6

2

1

7

Elevational gradient

1. scree

2. alpine meadow

3. rhododendron

4. conifer

5. mixed

6. oak

7. scrub

5

3

4

6


Local Tibetan Doctors

A Na Sonam Dorje


Tibetan Ethnobotany

& Gradient Analyses

• Elevation is the predominant

vegetation & ethnobotany

gradient; does not follow

Rahbek (1997)

• Useful plants follow

biodiversity patterns

• Alpine meadows & dry scrub

should be a conservation

priority along with conifer

and oak forests

• Entire landscape is important

to Tibetans and should be

sustainably managed.

• Biodiversity conservation is

linked to sustainable natural

resources used by locals


Alpine

Ethnobotany

Project:

GLORIA, NGS,

IBC2005


Traditional Agriculture


Traditional Landuse


C

h

a

n

g

e


Repeat Photography

Village along upper Mekong

Joseph Rock present


Using Joseph Rock’s photos

to interview elders about change.

change


Landuse Changes through PRA

• Roads and electrification

• Agricultural intensification

• Technology

• Aforestation

• Tenure

• NTFP

• Livestock

• Human population

• Sacred sites


Traditional

Markets

National

Globalized


Tibetan Ethnobotany

• Background

• Gradient Analyses

• Alpine Ethnobotany

• Landuse

• Change

• Market Study

• Plant Populations

• Sacred Sites

• Capacity Building

• Conservation and SD


Market Study


Selected Market NTPs from Khawa Karpo

Non-Timber Products Markets and Uses Values $1= 8¥

Mushrooms: Matsutake

(Tricholoma spp.), caterpillar

fungus (Cordyceps sinensis,

Morel (Morchela spp)

Medicines: Fritillaria spp.,

Saussurea spp., Picrorhiza

sp. and many more.

Orchids: Cymbidium spp.,

various other orchids

_______________________

Foods: pinenuts, greens, etc

Mushrooms and fungal

parasites for food/medicine

and exported to Japan

Alpine plants used in

traditional Chinese and

Tibetan medicines;

Horticultural trade; local

markets

_______________________

Local markets

Matsutake: 200-1200¥/kg

(price is extremely volatile)

Caterpillar 10¥/stroma pair

Morel: 600-1100¥/kg dry,

60¥/kg fresh

F. cirrhosa 60¥/kg, S.

laniceps 28¥/kg, S. medusa

14¥/kg, Picrorhiza sp. 25¥/kg

250-1000¥/plant; 5-50¥/

plant

_______________________

Pinenuts 6-10¥/kg; others 1-

5 ¥/kg


Modeling

Medicinal

Plants


Saussurea laniceps

Heavily collected

Tibetan medicine


Sacred Landscapes


GIS vegetation and sites:

sacred (low and high) and random


% Endemic

110

90

70

50

30

Sacred sites differ significantly

from random points

% Endemic by Plot Elevation

y = 0.0273x - 30.625

R 2 = 0.7355

10

2000 2500 3000 3500 4000 4500

Elevation (m)

Species composition:

useful (p=0.03)

endemic (p=0.05)

Lower sacred sites:

< elev (p=0.0001)

near villages (p=0.0001)

> S (p=0.03 )

> H’ (p= 0.04)

Higher sacred sites:

> endemics (p=0.0001)


X

X

Pairing Sacred and Secular Sites


Buddhism

and Bön


Ethnobotany Capacity Building

Tibetan villagers

– Women

– Men

Tibetan doctors

• University students

• Resource people

– PRA

– GIS

– Ethnobotanical

collecting

• Translators: Tibetan,

Chinese & English

Ford Foundation


Ethnobotany

Capacity Building

Landuse Study

• PRA: Landuse mapping

• GIS: Landuse mapping

• Ethnobotanical

collecting: NTPs


Ethnobotany Capacity Building

Applied Projects and Theses

Applied Projects:

Tibetan medicine

– Center

– Training

– Manual

• Sacred trees

• Walnuts

Ethnobotany Theses:

Tibetan medicinal

• Green manures

• Oak forest

• Sacred plants

• Walnuts


Tibetan Ethnobotany

• Background

• Gradient Analyses

• Alpine Ethnobotany

• Landuse

• Change

• Market Study

• Plant Populations

• Sacred Sites

• Capacity Building

• Conservation and SD

Biodiversity conservation

is linked to sustainable natural resources used by locals


Ethnobotany research, applied research, and

capacity building in Tibetan Yunnan

We gratefully acknowledge:

We gratefully acknowledge: National Science Foundation,

The Nature Conservancy, Ford Foundation


Contributing

Researchers

• Anthony Amend

• Danica Anderson

• Trish Consiglio

• Bee Gunn

• Kurt Hoffmeister

• Wayne Law

• Heidi Schmidt

• Ruth Sherman

• Ben Staver

• Jessica Woo

• George Yatskievych


and the

Tibetan

people of

Menri !!

whose prior informed consent was

enthusiastically, hospitably, & warmly given

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