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Harvesting and Local Knowledge of a Cultural Non-Timber Forest Product (NTFP): Gum-Resin from Boswellia serrata Roxb. in Three Protected Areas of the Western Ghats, India

1
Department of Environmental Science, Rhodes University, Makhanda 6140, South Africa
2
Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology & the Environment (ATREE), Royal Enclave, Srirampura, Jakkur Post, Bangalore 560064, India
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2019, 10(10), 907; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10100907
Received: 20 September 2019 / Revised: 12 October 2019 / Accepted: 14 October 2019 / Published: 15 October 2019
Soliga tribes in the Western Ghats, India harvest some NTFPs (non-timber forest products) for religious purposes. They extract gum-resin from Boswellia serrata Roxb. in Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Tiger Reserve (BRT), Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS), and Malai Mahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary (MMH) in the state of Karnataka, India. They use gum-resin as a cultural offering to the deities in the temples in these study sites and in their households. The traditional harvesting practices adopted by the Soliga tribes in these protected areas, types of gum-resin extracted, and the nature of the extraction processes were examined. The research undertook 346 household surveys with gum-resin harvesters and non-harvesters across 15 villages, along with 60 field trips with the harvesters, during which field harvesting activities and practices were noted. Six different types of gum-resin were harvested, with marked differences between the three sites. Because of the different types of gum-resin, the quantities harvested were also significantly different between sites. Approximately 80% of the harvesters were aware of some harmful methods of harvesting gum-resin, and some harvesters highlighted that B. serrata trees would yield gum-resin only when damaged. Such damage could be human-made or through the effects of elephants, wind, Trigona honey harvest, deer horns or body rubbing and longhorn beetles. Most (81%) of the non-harvesters surveyed previously practiced gum-resin harvesting but had ceased for a variety of reasons, mostly because of insufficient demand and hence income from the sale of gum-resin, insufficient supply, or fear of wild animals in the forests. Considering these cultural practices, experiences, and beliefs of the Soliga communities can help inform management plans and conservation of the species in its natural habitat. View Full-Text
Keywords: cultural NTFP; gum-resin; harvesting practice; Indian frankincense; Soliga cultural NTFP; gum-resin; harvesting practice; Indian frankincense; Soliga
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Soumya, K.V.; M. Shackleton, C.; R. Setty, S. Harvesting and Local Knowledge of a Cultural Non-Timber Forest Product (NTFP): Gum-Resin from Boswellia serrata Roxb. in Three Protected Areas of the Western Ghats, India. Forests 2019, 10, 907.

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