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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Non-Timber Forest Products : Indigenous ethnobotanical knowledge and livelihood security in West Suriname van den Boog, Tim


Suriname is highly forested and inhabited by Indigenous peoples who are dependent on a diverse range of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) for their subsistence and income. NTFP knowledge is decreasing due to fragmented knowledge transmission. The NTFP-containing forests are also of interest to multinational extractive companies. Without co-managed governance and weak tenure security, livelihoods and biodiversity can become jeopardised. This thesis focuses on two Indigenous communities that vary in forest-dependency and exposure to urbanisation. Children’s ethnobotanical knowledge is compared to determine causes of ethnobotanical knowledge losses. In addition, land tenure regimes are assessed and ecological impacts from NTFP harvests are determined. Voucher specimens were collected and ethnobotanical data were obtained from informants. Questionnaires were used to elicit and record children’s ethnobotanical knowledge and that of NTFP gatherers to define important NTFP species. Market surveys were held to determine commercial NTFPs. It was shown that school attendance and the limited time spent in forests disrupt the acquisition of ethnobotanical knowledge by children. At the same time, acculturation can lead to cross-cultural knowledge exchange, strengthening the communities’ knowledge about NTFPs. The research further demonstrated that the uses of commercial and food NTFPs were known prior to the acquisition of knowledge of plant names, confirming that ethnobotanical knowledge acquisition at a young age happens through observation. Ecological risks from overharvesting seeds from vegetal NTFPs included trophic cascades: population declines of targeted species and animals that feed on them. For the commercially most traded animals, a decrease in abundancy was noticed as a result of increased local and non-local demands. Because of a sudden high global demand for Potamotrygon boesemani, stocks of this endemic stingray are imperilled. NTFP gathering largely happened outside the communities’ communal forest on State lands under active or proposed logging concessions. Traditional NTFP practices should be safeguarded by protecting gathering sites and targeted species. Strengthening of Indigenous with government co-management is needed for effective forest governance. Moreover, long-term research is desirable on current NTFP stocks and the impacts of NTFP harvesting on target species and their ecosystem. An immediate moratorium on P. boesemani is required to prevent this species from further collapse or potential extinction.

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