Plant Diversity ›› 2003, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (05): 1-3.

• Articles •    

Ethnobotany:Development Dynamics of the Discipline and Prospects

PEI ShengJi   

  1. Kunming Institute of Botany,Chinese Academy of Sciences,Kunming 650204,China
  • Online:2003-10-25 Published:2003-10-25

Abstract: This paper presents and discusses development advances and current trends of ethnobotany.Since ethnobotany appeared as a research subject in 1896 in USA,it has passed century development history.Ethnobotany has been developed in its research methodologies from earlier documentation,description and inventory of useful plants,to a new stage of experimental,technical and quantitative studies.Today ethnobotany has been widely used in sustainable utilization of plant resource,rural community development and biodiversity conservation.The advance of discipline in contemporary ethnobotany can be summarized into three aspects that are:(1) Methodological development has been shifted from recording and description into experimental,technical and quantitative,and from basic research to practical application;(2) Research approach has been dominated by participatory,casestudies oriented and analytical works rather than merely field survey,interviewing and passive recordings;(3) Geographical coverage of ethnobotanical studies has been expanded largely,from regional scale to worldwide ethnobotanical studies,in particular,ethnobotany in developing countries gained rapid development in last half century.Moreover,in developing countries today,ethnobotany has been considered as a practical research tool in plant resource management and biodiversity conservation.Ethnobotany as discipline to study with in China was begun in 1982,however its progress made in development of the subject is remarkable in establishment of theoretic frameworks;identification of research areas;methodological development and setup appropriate approaches for basic and applied ethnobotany.Today,ethnobotany in China has been developed from basic,or descriptive research (investigation,documentation and inventory) into applied phase for plant resources and conservation,immense progress has been made in sustainable management of plant resources,biodiversity conservation and rural development.In the new century,Chinese ethnobotany has to face new challenges and opportunities for its development.It has to face the new conditions of national economy development in China's West Provinces and promoting integration of research and enterprise development;to develop ethnobotany from the scale of regional research subject into nationalwide scientific research subject;and to further accomplish the entire disciplinary system of Chinese ethnobotany,contributing to sustainable development of national economy,livelihood of rural people,conservation of biodiversity,and consolidation of all ethnic nationalities of the country.

Key words: Ethnobotany;Development trend;Plant resource;Utilization and conservation