Sustainable Use and Management of Indigenous Plant Resources: A Case of Mantheding Community in Limpopo Province, South Africa

Sejabaledi Rankoana
2016 Sustainability  
Indigenous plant resources provide rural communities with non-timber forest products that provide energy, food, shelter and medicine. Indigenous plant users in the rural communities have developed selective management methods to sustain plant resources. The most common management methods are restrictions on the cutting of green plants, harvesting of some species during certain seasons, exclusive harvesting of the leaves of certain species and collection of lateral roots from medicinal plant
more » ... medicinal plant species. The present study examined the use and management strategies developed by members of Mantheding community to sustain indigenous plant resources. The study results are derived from 100 structured interviews and transect walks with key-informants. Multiple uses of indigenous plants are observed. The plants are sources of medicine, food, fodder and fuel. Sustainable management of indigenous plants is accomplished through harvesting practices, seed propagation and control of plant use by the local chief. These management strategies may be referred to as in situ management methods in which the fruits, leaves, roots, bulbs, stem, bark and wood are harvested in their habitats and direct conservation methods are applied to sustain the resources. observed that the spiritual beliefs, cosmologies and worldviews are import in the use and management of biodiversity. In Indonesia, local resource management is embedded in the wider socio-cultural context of the local communities [17] . In the Malagasy's spiritual cosmology, the use of taboos for sustainable environmental conservation underlines local people's need for their survival [18] . Taboos may not adequately protect endangered natural resources, but limit destruction of these resources through restrictions on harvesting and collection of the resources [19] . Indigenous plant species are sustained through selective cultural practices [12, 15, 20, 21] where the plant users collect the plant materials through observance of local management practices [22] . Such cultural practices are important in the conservation of biodiversity, rare species, protected areas and ecological processes [9] . Biodiversity management through cultural practices helps strengthen cultural integrity and values [22, 23] . It is proposed that these knowledge systems should be preserved, expanded and applied [24] to sustain the indigenous plant resources and the livelihood of communities that depend on indigenous plants for food, medicine, fuel and fodder. Article 10(c) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) proposes the protection and encouragement of customary use of biological resources in accordance with cultural practices compatible with conservation or sustainable use requirements [25] . Cultural practices important for biodiversity management are embedded in taboos, myths, folklore, values and traditional institutions [7]. Traditional beliefs and rituals are the indigenous methods of management of plants adopted to sustain indigenous plants exploited by rural communities [15, 26] . The most common practices and restrictions among Vhavhenda in South Africa [27] and rural communities in Konta Woreda [28] include barring people from entering some areas of communal lands, cutting green plants, cutting trees in the graveyard, soil collection in the communal lands, harvesting of some species during certain seasons, exclusive harvesting of leaves of certain species, and collection of lateral roots from plants used medicinally. The goal of the present study was to examine the use and management of indigenous plants in a rural community. As a case study, the study was conducted to document the uses of indigenous plant species and the conservation methods developed by community members to manage the plant resources. The results of the study could be used to develop culture specific sustainable management strategies to preserve indigenous plants of cultural value in the rural communities. Richmond et al. [7] suggests that this type of study could make a contribution towards co-management of plant resources for sustainable and socially just environmental management. Local communities possess a great deal of knowledge about their environments and how to manipulate them to best meet their needs, and therefore, innovative approaches in indigenous plant management are necessary [5] . Such approaches could be based on the understanding of local people's existing knowledge and practices related to forest resource use and management. The complexity of the ecological knowledge of indigenous communities in British Columbia emphasizes that in order to appropriately integrate traditional knowledge into current management systems, its use must be coupled with an understanding of and respect for the culture of the people in which the knowledge is situated [12] . This will, according to Moeng and Potgieter [29], enable communities to manage their environment on ecological principles and benefit economically from becoming stewards over plant biodiversity. Damn [30] reinforces that community conservation activities could lead to the re-establishment of grass-roots democracy and the freedom to control their destinies, which would further improve the socio-economic status of communities. For example the Wapichan people believe that they have a responsibility to care for the land and its resources in order to maintain abundance for present-day communities and for future generations [9] . Sustainability 2016, 8, 221 3 of 13
doi:10.3390/su8030221 fatcat:56yqtpovfbauddnxko4js2c2au