Cultural significance of the flora of a tropical dry forest in the Doche vereda (Villavieja, Huila, Colombia
Artículo de revista
Background: In Colombia, ethnobotanical studies regarding plant cultural significance (CS) in tropical dry forests are scarce and mainly focused on the Caribbean region. Different authors have indicated that the plants with the most uses are those of greater cultural importance. Additionally, gender differences in knowledge and interest in natural resources has been widely recorded. This study evaluated the cultural significance of plants in the Doche community, in the Department of Huila. Furthermore, it evaluates the richness of plant knowledge among local inhabitants, looking for testing the hypothesis that the CS of plants positively correlates to the number of uses people inform about, and that there are significant differences on the richness of ethnobotanical knowledge between men and women in this community. Methods: The ethnobotanical categories: "food," "condiment," "economy," "fodder," "firewood," "timber", "medicine," and "others" were established to carry out semi-structured interviews, social cartography, and ethnobotanical walks. The frequency of mention was calculated as a measure of CS. The richness of knowledge of each collaborator was obtained. Non-parametric tests were performed to determine whether differences between the numbers of mentioned species existed between genders and ethnobotanical categories. Finally, Pearson correlation tests determined the relationship between CS and the number of ethnobotanical categories. Results: A hundred useful species were registered in crops and forests. The most abundant categories were medicinal (45 species), firewood (30), and fodder (28). The most culturally significant species according to frequency of mention were Pseudosamanea guachapele, Guazuma ulmifolia, Manihot esculenta, and Musa balbisiana. The species with the most registered uses (five) were Guazuma ulmifolia and Gliricidia sepium. We found a correlation between CS and the number of uses per ethnobotanical category, but no significant difference between genders regarding ethnobotanical knowledge. Conclusion: Frequency of mention provides relevant information about the CS of species. Furthermore, it aids to establish sustainable use of tropical dry forests without loss of resources parting from strategies designed from within the Doche community and based on their ethnobotanical knowledge. We found that the number of uses of a plant is correlated with its degree of cultural importance. On the other hand, no significant differences were found between genders regarding ethnobotanical knowledge; that is, both men and women have similar roles in the community, which allows them to recognize the same uses per species.