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J Ethnopharmacol. 1991 Apr;32(1-3):209-16.

What is ethnobotany today?

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Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, U.K.


A review is given of contemporary ethnobotany. Emphasis is placed on the interdisciplinary nature of the subject and most progress is made when botanists, anthropologists, ecologists, chemists, etc. work in close collaboration. Ethnoecology, the study of the management systems of indigenous peoples, is particularly important for its application to the creation of sustainable use systems in the tropics. This must include the study of peasant agriculturalists who have adapted many techniques from cultures that have long been extinct. Quantitative studies of the extent to which rainforest Indians use the forest have provided many data useful for conservation. The study of indigenous medicines is leading to the discovery of new medicines and agrochemicals. When commercial benefit is gained from products derived from information obtained from indigenous peoples, it is essential to ensure that they and their countries benefit from the royalties. There is a great urgency for further ethnobotanical research before indigenous cultures and natural habitats are destroyed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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