1st phase of ethnobotanical research in tribal communities of Bastar region, India completed

In the frame of his dissertation entitled ‘Ethnobotany of Gond and Baiga communities in the vicinity of selected sacred groves in Chhattisgarh, India’, Nishanth Gurav, under the supervision of Zbyněk Polesný, from the TRIBE team completed his first data collection field expedition to Bastar region in central India to investigate wild edible plants from the ethnobotanical perspective.

The tribal communities in the Bastar region have been depending on the wild plant resources since time immemorial, thus having extensive knowledge on use and management of wild edible plants. Sacred groves are conserved forest patches within primeval forest areas where access is restricted or very limited and therefore serving as a refuge to flora undisturbed for hundres of years.

The sacred groves have been investigated ethnobotanically almost exclusively in the context of medicinal plants, while the traditional ecological knowledge on wild edible plants and community biodiversity management remains neglected.

In the first phase of the study, ethnobotanical knowledge and community biodiversity management practices were investigated in the context of wild edible plants during the course of 3 months of fieldwork. Fifty sacred groves sites across the study area of 2 districts were identified using transect walks.

The preliminary results show that the indigenous people in the study area use at least 100 wild edible plant taxa (including 17 tuber plants) and apply species-specific sustainable harvesting practices, and various methods of plant foods preparation. Collected plant voucher specimens were deposited at the Herbarium (FRLH) of the University of Transdisciplinary Health Sciences and Technology (TDU), Bangalore. We are thankful to all the tribal communities for their participation and knowledge sharing, and the local stakeholders, namely the Chhattisgarh State Forest Department and TDU, Bangalore for their support in the field.

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