New publication on plant use in the Balkans

A new paper has been published on the knowledge and use of plants (esp. for medicine) in Albania, near the Macedonian border:

Pieroni, A., A. Nedelcheva, A. Hadjari, B. Mustafa, B. Scaltriti, K. Cianfaglione, and C. L. Quave. (2014). Local knowledge on plants and domestic remedies in the mountain villages of Peshkopia (Eastern Albania). Journal of Mountain Science 11(1): 180-194. DOI: 10.1007/s11629-013-2651-3

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Ethnobotanical studies in the Balkans are crucial for fostering sustainable rural development in the region and also for investigating the dynamics of change of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), which has broad-sweeping implications for future biodiversity conservation efforts. A survey of local botanical and medical knowledge and practices was conducted in four mountainous villages of the Peshkopia region in northeast Albania, near the Macedonian border. Snowball sampling techniques were employed to recruit 32 informants for participation in semi-structured interviews regarding the use of the local flora for food, medicinal, veterinary and ritual purposes. The uses of 84 botanical taxa were recorded as well as a number of other folk remedies for the treatment of both humans and livestock. Comparison of the collected data with another ethnobotanical field study recently conducted among Albanians living on the Macedonian side of Mount Korab shows a remarkable divergence in medicinal plant uses, thus confirming the crucial role played by the history of the last century in transforming TEK. Most noteworthy, as a legacy of the Communist period, a relevant number of wild medicinal taxa are still gathered only for trade rather than personal/familial use. This may lead to unsustainable exploitation of certain taxa (i.e. Orchis and Gentiana spp.) and presents some important conservation challenges. Appropriate development and environmental educational frameworks should aim to reconnect local people to the perception of limitation and renewability of botanical resources.

Keywords: Ethnobotany; Albania; Mount Korab; Medicinal Plants; Wild Food Plants