Hierarchies of knowledge: ethnobotanical knowledge, practices and beliefs of the Vhavenda in South Africa for biodiversity conservation

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dc.contributor.author Constant, Natasha Louise
dc.contributor.author Tshisikhawe, Milingoni Peter
dc.date.accessioned 2019-06-17T21:17:18Z
dc.date.available 2019-06-17T21:17:18Z
dc.date.issued 2018
dc.identifier.citation Constant and Tshisikhawe Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine (2018) 14: 56 https://doi.org/10.1186/s13002-018-02552 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/11602/1375
dc.identifier.uri https://doi.org/10.1186/s13002-018-02552
dc.description Department of Botany en_US
dc.description.abstract Background: Indigenous and local knowledge systems are characterised by a ‘knowledge-practice-belief’ complex that plays a critical role for biodiversity management and conservation on indigenous lands. However, few studies take into consideration the interconnected relationship between the social processes underpinning knowledge accumulation, generation and transmission. The study draws on ethnobotanical research to explore plant uses, practices and belief systems developed among the indigenous Vhavenda in South Africa for sustaining indigenous plant resources and highlights some of the forces of change influencing the acquisition and transmission of knowledge. Methods: Data was collected from September–November 2016 from 31 individuals by means of semi-structured interviews; walks in home gardens, cultivated fields, montane forests and deciduous woodlands; and vouchering of plant species in six villages (Duthuni, Tshidzivhe, Vuvha, Lwamondo, Mashau and Tshiendeulu) in the Vhembe District of South Africa. The Use Value Index (UVI) was used to measure the number of different uses of each species and the Relative Frequency Index (RFI) to measure the local importance of each species. Semi-structured interviews and comparisons with published works also explored cultural practices and belief systems associated with plants, modes and barriers of knowledge transmission. Results: Eighty-four plant species were reported within 44 families, with Fabaceae representing the highest diversity of plant species. We identified six species not previously documented in the Vhavenda ethnobotanical literature, 68 novel uses of plants and another 14 variations of known uses. Vhavenda plants were predominantly used for food (36.0%) and medicine (26.1%) and consisted mainly of native (73.8%) compared to non-native species (26.2%). The Vhavenda possess a range of practices for managing plant resources that can be attributed to taboos preventing the use of selected species, promotion of sustainable harvesting practices and the propagation of plant species for ecological restoration. Plant knowledge and management practices were transmitted from relatives (48.4%), self-taught through time spent planting and harvesting plants on the land (19.4%), through apprenticeships with traditional healers (16.1%), initiation schools (9. 7%) and clan gatherings (6.4%). Changes in traditional learning platforms for knowledge exchange, erosion of cultural institutions and shifting value systems serve as barriers for knowledge transmission among the Vhavenda. Conclusion: The study points to a need for new partnerships to be forged between conservationists, government actors and local and indigenous knowledge holders to foster hybrid knowledge coproduction for developing strategies to enhance the productivity and biodiversity of indigenous lands. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher BMC en_US
dc.subject Ethnobotany en_US
dc.subject Indigenous and local knowledge en_US
dc.subject Traditional ecological knowledge en_US
dc.subject Biodiversity conservation en_US
dc.subject Sustainable management en_US
dc.subject Vhavenda en_US
dc.subject Knowledge transmission en_US
dc.title Hierarchies of knowledge: ethnobotanical knowledge, practices and beliefs of the Vhavenda in South Africa for biodiversity conservation en_US
dc.type Article en_US
dc.rights.license © The Author(s). 2018 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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