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Medicinal Plant Working Group Ethnobotany Committee


Trish Flaster, Botanical Liaisons, Boulder, CO


To encourage active participation by Tribes and other holders of traditional ecological knowledge pertaining to native medicinal plants.

Ethnobotany is multi-disciplinary. To discover the practical potential of native plants not only requires knowledge of plants, but an understanding and sensitivity to the dynamics of how cultures work. By observing the intimate and harmonious relationship of indigenous cultures to their environment, their accumulated knowledge of the biodynamics of the natural world, and their traditions of stewardship that sustain fragile ecological balance, scientists, ethnobotanists, and others can gain insight into the management of land reserves, plant communities, and the biodiversity they sustain, so as to help maintain a balanced ecosystem for future generations.

Action Items:
  • Conserve indigenous plants and plant communities used in traditional medicine, ceremony, ethnobotany, and the natural products industry.
  • Preserve indigenous and immigrant knowledge, culture, and biodiversity through education aimed at retaining, reinforcing, and revitalizing this knowledge of plants. "Indigenous" pertains to the knowledge of the First Nations, as well as to the knowledge of rural U.S.-adopted cultures (e.g., African Americans, Appalachians, Asian, and other cultures now living in the U.S.)
    • Establish an elder link: this involves inviting elders to participate and set direction for actions.
    • Establish regional centers as loci for farming and education as these tie into plant communities.
    • Encourage regional ethnoconference sponsorship that would bring together tribal and non-tribal knowledge on the subject of medicinals.
  • Support community sovereignty through the Convention on Biological Diversity.
  • Establish medicinal plant centers dedicated to conserving the plants, providing information about their uses, and ensuring a sustainable supply for future extraction, in partnership with the communities.
  • Collaborate with the other efforts under the Medicinal Plant Working Group to incorporate traditional ecological knowledge within studies that focus on sustaining medicinal plants in the wild and in cultivation.
  • Establish an ethnobotanical/ethnomedicinal seed clearinghouse and exchange, working with traditional elders and communities.

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Last Updated: 06-Mar-2006