LADIO Ana Haydee
Human Ecology, ethnobotany and trational practices in a rural population of the Monte region, Argentina: resilience and ecological knowledge
LADIO A H; LOZADA, M
JOURNAL OF ARID ENVIRONMENTS
Lugar: Netherlands; Año: 2009 vol. 73 p. 222 - 227
In this study, we looked for insights on how human populations inhabiting the Monte, interact with arid environments and how they use ecological knowledge on wild plants for their subsistence. Rural communities living in the Monte region have been undergoing extreme changes in both social and ecological scenarios. Most of them are agro-pastoral societies living under precarious conditions, and whose land shows marked signs of degradation. Wild plants represent an important part of their dietary components; i.e. these resources probably act as a sustenance buffer in periods of seasonal scarcity. In the present study, we analyzed some ethno-ecological strategies undertaken by these rural communities. The ethnobotanical knowledge of greatest cultural and nutritional significance includes the use of many wild plants such as Prosopis spp., Schinus spp., Ephedra spp., Condalia and Larrea spp., among others. Since ancestral times, these xeric species have been utilized as edible, medicinal, tinctorial, fodder and fuel resources. Many rural populations not only maintain wild plant use, but they also practice cattle transhumance, a tradition which tends to reduce over-grazing, allowing for the recovery of most palatable plants. Cattle transhumance, also an ancient practice, is based on landscape patchiness use. Both practices appear to be associated with an adaptive and resilient natural resource management. We refer to resilience as the capacity to cope with disturbances and changes, prevalent features in populations inhabiting this arid region.We also explore, through a study case in Patagonia, the present use of wild edible plants, its relationship with summer-cattle-transhumance, and the most salient sociocultural factors affecting these practices. Summer-transhumance contributes to the utilization of a greater richness and quantity of wild edible plants. This activity, which used to be a family tradition, seems to be changing given that nowadays it is mainly carried out by single family members. Wild plant gathering and summer-transhumance traditions tend to be diminishing at present, probably caused by acculturation processes and socio-economic pressures. Consequently, by abandoning these ancestral customs, a negative impact on the resilience capacity of these rural communities might be occurring. This erosion process leads to a decrease in their long-term wellbeing as well as an increase in their socioecological vulnerability.