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September 11, 2008

Illegal Trade affects Medicinal and Aromatic Plants in Nepal

A headline article in the Telegraphnepal discusses the status of several medicinal and aromatic plants in Nepal and concludes that they are endangered because of illegal trade supported by "rampant illiteracy" prevailing in the local villages.

The article focuses on the mushroom Cordyceps sinensis, Fritillaria cirrhosa, (both important in traditional Chinese Medicine); Larix himalaica, (used for construction) and mentions Seabuckthorn (used in cosmetics) as well as essential oils.

The author of the article, Khilendra Gurung, is a Nepalese botanist and researcher in the non-Timber forest products of Nepal, especially including aromatic plants, with a number of published papers on the essential oils of Nepal. Eight of his papers are posted online on Scribd, an article site. They include a 44 page inventory of non timber forest Products (NTFPs) in the Manaslu Conservation Area, an an analysis of wintergreen oils, two papers on Sea Buckthorn, an MS-GC of Rhododendron oil, a specification for Lindera neesiana, and an overview of the the essential oil bearing plants of Nepal.

Posted by Rob on September 11, 2008 in Conservation, Ecological/Cultural Sustainability, Essential Oils/Plant Extractions | Permalink


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Khilendra Gurung is a knowledgeable botanist, who has been working with local hmalayan communities for many years, and has a very good first-hand experience of the problems of human-plant interaction sustainability. Two years ago Khilendra and I, together with another group of professionals, went for a floristic check-up of the Naar-Phoo Valley in the Manang District, where we collected many samples for further analyses in Italy. In the meanwhile we gathered oral accounts of the paucity of some medicinal plants used by the local informants, in particular over Fritillaria, Lindera neesiana, some Zanthoxylum spp., ecc. The reasons for the problems we encountered are, in my opinion, centered in a faulty approach by governement and many NGOs while trying to "teach" sustainability. Instead of using a "trickle-up", cooperative method of discussion, where the reasons of the local communities as well as their methods of NTFPs exploitation are discussed democratically, and enter a debate-zone, we see the implementation of general policies, usually thinked-up by "consultants" who might not even know the area. Couple this with extreme poverty of the rural and mountain areas, and you will see how much effort is needed to revert the trend.
Pics and description of the mission will be available soon (for those who might care :-) )
Take care

Posted by: Marco Valussi | Sep 17, 2008 3:57:57 AM

I think its sad that they entice these poor people with money to get them to give up local plants. I really don't think its ignorance of the villagers as much as it is greed of the ones harvesting them.

Posted by: susan | Oct 2, 2008 1:43:24 PM

Hello Marcia!
I've just tagged you and hope you'll join the game:
It's a good way to get more readers to visit your blog and read about all the interesting and important issues you post about here.
Warmest regards,

Posted by: Ayala | Oct 25, 2008 10:18:01 AM

That's too bad, hopefully they can turn the situation around.

Posted by: Sea Buckthorn Oil | Nov 11, 2008 12:00:50 PM

That's real bad !!! Theres a word " KARMA " to those people doing illegal!!!

Posted by: flowers gifts | Sep 2, 2009 11:41:31 PM

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