SUSTAINABLE MEDICINAL PLANT USE FROM KWAZULU-NATAL GRASSLANDS: CAN IT BE DONE?
Steven McKean
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

 

Abstract:

Grasslands in KwaZulu-Natal contain key medicinal plant species and are targeted by collectors for commercial harvest. Although there is strong reason to believe that the current medicinal plant trade and its impact on grasslands is not sustainable, few data exist to support this perception. Little is known about the impact of plant harvest on the species populations or indeed what the population estimates of high demand species are in KZN grasslands. This paper describes key medicinal plant species in high demand from KZN grasslands, provides population size estimates of these species and assesses demand for them in KZN. It is estimated that medicinal plant densities are declining along with the area of grassland at a rate of between 5% and 6% annually. From research done, it is likely that key grassland medicinal plants are being harvested at a rate of approximately 1% of their population size annually while reproductive rates are currently unknown. Given that the life forms of the plants threatened by overexploitation are slow growing bulbs and corms, they are unlikely to be replenishing populations faster than they are harvested. The implications of this for current and future grassland medicinal plant use scenarios are discussed. A short to medium term (five year) strategy which aims to achieve a measure of control of illegal harvest and trade of key indigenous medicinal plants from grasslands while simultaneously attempting to enhance the livelihoods of the plant gatherers and traders is outlined.

 

Presentation Topic
SUSTAINABLE MEDICINAL PLANT USE FROM KWAZULU-NATAL GRASSLANDS: CAN IT BE DONE?
Contact Mr Mckean:
Email Steven McKean