Trade and conservation of Nepalese medicinal plants, fungi, and lichen

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Dipesh Pyakurel, Carsten Smith-Hall, Indira Bhattarai-Sharma, Suresh Kumar Ghimire

Trade in Nepalese medicinal plants, fungi, and lichens is huge, yet there is no overview of traded species, impeding the development of targeted and appropriate conservation interventions. This study intends to identify all traded species from Nepal, analyze their distribution patterns, and assess their vulnerability, none of which has been done before. Contemporary data on traded species were obtained from 113 sub-local traders, 105 local traders, and 75 central wholesalers for case year 2014–2015, and historical data from a review of trade-related publications. We recorded 300 species in trade, double that of previous estimates, distributed across 97 families and 197 genera. Most species are concentrated in subtropical and lower temperate regions indicating an economic potential for increased cultivation and domestication at middle altitudes. About 39% of commercial species are formally protected, including through bans on collection and trade of certain species. But this approach does not appear to protect species from commercial harvesting, driven by increasing demand and higher prices. The high-altitude species Nardostachys jatamansi, Rheum australe, and Picrorhiza scrophulariiflora are the most vulnerable traded species, warranting the development of alternative protection mechanisms, e.g., transferring management rights to local communities.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEconomic Botany
ISSN0013-0001
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Oct 2019

    Research areas

  • Altitudinal distribution, Commercialization, Himalayas, Illegal trade, South Asia, Vulnerability

ID: 230210425