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UKAID Department for International Development (R4D) 2003

Developing biometric sampling systems and optimal harvesting methods for medicinal tree bark in southern Africa

Tree Bark Medicinal

UKAID Department for International Development (R4D)

Titre : Developing biometric sampling systems and optimal harvesting methods for medicinal tree bark in southern Africa

Pays : Malawi, South Africa, Zambia

Projet de recherche pour le Développement : R8305

DFID Programme : Forestry

Organismes de mise en œuvre  : Lead Institutes : Wild Resources Limited

Durée : Start Date : 01-05-2003 — End Date : 30-01-2006

Objectifs  : To contribute locally to the knowledge base on which sustainable management plans can be prepared for tree species from which medicinal bark is harvested. The lessons learned through the research process will be generalised to provide advice on the most efficient manner to tackle generic NTFP sampling issues.

Tree bark is an important component of the pharmacopoeia of traditional healers in Africa and traditional medicine is still the main source of health care for the majority of Africans. As the population grows and becomes urbanised, forests shrink and the pressure on preferred bark species increases and trade is commercialised and orchestrated by market traders. In recent years the advent of the HIV/AIDS pandemic has increased the demand for medicinal herbs, including tree bark, as traditional healers work with the hospitals to find ways of alleviating the symptoms of AIDS. In Zambia AIDS has also increased the demand for bark as a cheap source of material to make coffins to bury the dead of the poorest people. Harvesting in RSA forests within a few hours drive of the Durban Herbal Market already compromises all trees of preferred species. The harvesting continues despite the prosecution of illegal harvesters. As far away as Malawi, medicinal plants are harvested for export to South Africa and this trade is likely to extend into Zambia and beyond. Pressure in Malawi is such that local extirpation of two medicinal tree species is already reported from Liwonde Forest (though this may not be solely the result of bark harvesting). Zambia has a relatively low population density but even here many trees close to Kitwe have had bark and roots harvested. The uncontrolled harvesting of bark could result in : local extirpation of the species ; compromised ecological processes in the forest ; reduction in forest incomes for owners, collectors, traders and traditional doctors ; the loss of useful medicines and compromised health security of the general population. It is contended that management planning will minimise the risks of forest exploitation. Management planning in turn depends on good quality, ideally quantitative, data of resource availability and growth rates. However, for many forest resources there are few tried and tested methods available for gathering suitable quantitative data. This is because experience indicates that traditional plot-based forest inventory methods do not provide good results for relatively rare, clumped or scattered species and many NTFP resources exhibit these characteristics. The difficulties of quantifying growth and replenishment rates for bark are even greater as very little scientific work has been done on bark recovery after wounding and growth rates in southern Africa. The project intends to provide reliable, scientific and participatory methods for quantifying bark quantities, growth rates and optimal harvesting strategies. This information can then form the basis for sustainable management plans which will, in turn, secure the livelihoods of people dependent on forest harvesting and the health of those who use traditional medicines.

Total Cost to DFID : £189,985

Présentation : Recherche for Development (R4D)

Page publiée le 22 juillet 2021