Conceptualizing the human use of wild edible herbs for conservation in South African communal areas

Dovie, D.B.K. and Shackleton, C.M. and Witkowski, E.T.F. (2007) Conceptualizing the human use of wild edible herbs for conservation in South African communal areas. Journal of Environmental Management, 84 (2). pp. 146-156. ISSN 0301-4797



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The importance of wild edible herbaceous species to resource poor households in most rural economies within savannas has been little studied. This is because most of the herbs grow in impoverished species communities and lands, often referred to as ‘marginal lands’. The aim of this paper is to conceptualize how the economics of wild edible herbs to households can be used to add value to total livelihoods and conservation within traditional communal areas of South Africa. Analysis of the economics of the consumption of wild edible herbs in Thorndale (Bushbuckridge district) of the Limpopo province is presented. The majority of households consumed wild edible herbs, averaging 15.4 kg dried weight per household per year and valued at $167 per household. The herbs were mostly harvested from uncultivated areas of farms, and rangelands. There was little correlation between household characteristics and the dependence on wild herbs for food. The local people noted a decline in the availability of the species, although not much is known about attempts to cultivate them. The only reasons attributed to the decline were nutrient poor soils and insufficient rains. With this background, developing a local strategy to sustain the species through cultivation by households was found to be feasible. A multiple-use system for the herbs, their improvement and value addition towards commercialization and increased household usage may result in wider acceptance and subsequent cultivation. Species diversity will be enhanced whilst conserving the land on which they grow. This multiple use system may include species roles in soil and water conservation.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Biodiversity; Cultivation; Food security; Impoverished lands; NTFPs; Savanna; South Africa; Limpopo; Bushbuckridge; wild edible herbs;
Subjects:Y Unknown > Subjects to be assigned
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Environmental Science
ID Code:392
Deposited By: Mrs Eileen Shepherd
Deposited On:31 May 2007
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:18
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