Advertisement

Human Ecology

, Volume 47, Issue 5, pp 653–667 | Cite as

Scholarly vs. Traditional Knowledge: Effects of Sacred Natural Sites on Ethnobotanical Practices in Tuscany, Central Italy

  • Giulia MattaliaEmail author
  • Renata Sõukand
  • Paolo Corvo
  • Andrea Pieroni
Article
  • 123 Downloads

Abstract

Sacred Natural Sites (SNSs), found in all inhabited continents, are cultural landscapes of spiritual significance for local communities. As they are believed to influence Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), we documented the use of wild and semi-domesticated plants for food and medicine in four villages located at different distances from SNSs in Central Italy. Results may indicate that SNSs, which have been managed and inhabited for centuries by monastic communities, have had a restrictive impact on local TEK, as the communities located near SNSs reported fewer traditional uses for plants than those living further from the same SNSs. One possible explanation is that the Scholarly Knowledge (SK) held by the monastic communities of SNSs competed with the TEK of the surrounding villages and this resulted in a smaller body of plant-related folk knowledge, practices and beliefs retained by the people living in the vicinity of SNSs. Further studies should address the past and current mechanisms of competition and/or osmosis between TEK and SK in terms of both daily practices and beliefs/theoretical knowledge.

Keywords

Ethnobotany Ethnomedicine Traditional ecological knowledge Sacred natural sites Tuscany, Italy 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Special thanks to all the informants who kindly share their folk plant knowledge.

Funding Information

This research was funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research Funds through the PRIN project ‘Biodiversity and ecosystem services in Sacred Natural Sites (BIOESSaNS)’, Nr. 2015P8524C, as well as by the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo, Italy.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

References

  1. Agyeman, Y., Saito, O., Seidu, G., and Otsuki, K. (2016). Provisioning Ecosystem Services-Sharing as a Coping and Adaptation Strategy Among Rural Communities in Ghana’s Semi-arid Ecosystem. Ecosystem Services 19: 92–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alohou, E. C., Gbemavo, D. S. J. C., Mensah, S., and Ouinsavi, C. (2017). Fragmentation of Forest Ecosystems and Connectivity Between Sacred Groves and Forest Reserves in Southeastern Benin, West Africa. Tropical Conservation Science 10: 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Avtzis, D. N., Stara, K., Sgardeli, V., Betsis, A., Diamandis, S., Healey, J. R., Kapsalis, E., Kati, V., Korakis, G., Marini Govigli, V., Monokrousos, N., Muggia, L., Nitsiakos, V., Papadatou, E., Papaioannou, H., Rohrer, A., Tsiakiris, R., Van Hotan, K. S., Vokou, D., Wong, J. L. G., and Halley, J. M. (2018). Quantifying the Conservation Value of Sacred Natural Sites. Biological Conservation 222: 95–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berkes, F. (1993). Traditional ecological knowledge in perspective. In Inglis, J. (ed.), Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Concepts and Cases. (Vol. 1) IDRC.Google Scholar
  5. Berkes, F. (1999). Sacred ecology. Traditional ecological knowledge and resource management. Taylor and Francis, Philadelphia and London, UK.Google Scholar
  6. Dafni, A. (2007). Rituals, Ceremonies and Customs Related to Sacred Trees with a Special Reference to the Middle East. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 3(1): 28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dal Cero, M., Saller, R., and Weckerle, C. S. (2014). The Use of the Local Flora in Switzerland: A Comparison of Past and Recent Medicinal Plant Knowledge. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 151(1): 253–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Daye, D. D., and Healey, J. R. (2015). Impacts of Land-Use Change on Sacred Forests at the Landscape Scale. Global Ecology and Conservation 3: 349–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Deil, U., Culmsee, H., and Berriane, M. (2005). Sacred Groves in Morocco: A Society’s Conservation of Nature for Spiritual Reasons. Silva Carelica 49: 185–201.Google Scholar
  10. Doffana, Z. D. (2017). Sacred Natural Sites, Herbal Medicine, Medicinal Plants and their Conservation in Sidama, Ethiopia. Cogent Food and Agriculture 3(1).Google Scholar
  11. Egea, T., Signorini, M. A., Bruschi, P., Rivera, D., Obón, C., Alcaraz, F., and Palazón, J. A. (2015). Spirits and Liqueurs in European traditional medicine: Their History and Ethnobotany in Tuscany and Bologna (Italy). Journal of Ethnopharmacoly. 175.Google Scholar
  12. Egea, T., Signorini, M. A., Ongaro, L., Rivera, D., de Castro, C., and Bruschi, P. (2016). Traditional Alcoholic Beverages and their Value in the Local Culture of the Alta Valle del Reno, a Mountain Borderland Between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna (Italy). Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 12(1): 27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fischer, J., Hartel, T., and Kuemmerle, T. (2012). Conservation Policy in Traditional Farming Landscapes. Conservation Letters 5(3): 167–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Frascaroli, F. (2013). Catholicism and Conservation: The Potential of Sacred Natural Sites for Biodiversity Management in Central Italy. Human Ecology 41(4): 587–601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Frascaroli, F., and Verschuuren, B. (2016). Linking biocultural diversity and sacred sites: Evidence and recommendations in the European framework. In Agnoletti, M., and Emanueli, F. (eds.), Biocultural Diversity in Europe, Environmental History vol 5, Springer, New York.Google Scholar
  16. Frascaroli, F., Bhagwat, S., and Diemer, M. (2014). Healing Animals, Feeding Souls: Ethnobotanical Values at Sacred Sites in Central Italy. Economic Botany 68(4): 438–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gadgil, M., and Vartak, V. D. (1982). The Sacred Groves of Western Ghats in India. Economic Botany 30(2): 152–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hughes, J. D., and Chandran, M. D. S. (1998). Sacred groves around the earth: An overview. In Ramakrishnan, P. S., Saxena, K. G., and Chandrashekara, U. M. (eds.), Conserving the Sacred for Biodiversity Management, Science Publishers, Plymouth.Google Scholar
  19. Jonuks, T. (2013). Hiis-sites in Northern Estonia: Distinctive Hills and Plain Fields. Archeologia Baltica 15: 20–30.Google Scholar
  20. Kristjánsdóttir, S., Larsson, I., and Åsen, P. A. (2014). The Icelandic Medieval Monastic Garden - Did It Exist? Scandinavian Journal of History 39(5): 560–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lardos, A., and Heinrich, M. (2013). Continuity and change in medicinal plant use: The example of monasteries on Cyprus and historical iatrosophia texts. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 150(1): 202–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mądra Gackowska Gackowska, K., Gackowski, M., Główczewska Siedlecka, E., Siedlecki, Z., and Ziółkowska, S. (2018). Medications of Medieval Monastery Medicine. Journal of Education, Health and Sport. 8(9): 1667–1674.Google Scholar
  23. Medeiros, M. F. T., and de Albuquerque, U. P. (2012). The Pharmacy of the Benedictine Monks: The Use of Medicinal Plants in Northeast Brazil During the Nineteenth Century (1823–1829). Journal of Ethnopharmacology 139(1): 280–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mody, Z. (2018). Socio-ecology and the Sacred: A Comparative Study of Entanglement and Natural Sites in Tropical Asia, Trent University.Google Scholar
  25. Nganso, T. B., Kyerematen, R., and Obeng-Ofori, D. (2012). Review of Biodiversity in Sacred Groves in Ghana and Implications on Conservation. Current Trends in Ecology 3: 1–10.Google Scholar
  26. Niederer, M. (2005). Der St. Galler Botanicus; Ein frühmittelalterliches Herbar; Kritische Edition, Übersetzung und Kommentar. (Lang, Euro). Bern.Google Scholar
  27. Pignatti, S. (1982). Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna, pp. 1–3.Google Scholar
  28. Plieninger, T., and Bieling, C. (2012). Resilience and the Cultural Landscape: Understanding and Managing Change in Human-Shaped Environments, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, New York.Google Scholar
  29. Salick, J., Byg, A., Amend, A., Schmidt, H., Law, W., and Gunn, B. (2006). Tibetan Medicine Plurality. Economic Botany 60(3): 227–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Schmid, B., Guarino, R., Frascaroli, F., Chiarucci, A., and Bhagwat, S. (2015). Shrines in Central Italy Conserve Plant Diversity and Large Trees. Ambio 45(4): 468–479.Google Scholar
  31. Stara, K., Tsiakiris, R., and Wong, J. L. G. (2015). The Trees of the Sacred Natural Sites of Zagori, NW Greece. Landscape Research 40(7): 884–904.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Stevens, P. F. 2015. Angiosperm Phylogeny Website, version 14. http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/APweb/ (28 March 2019).
  33. Teklehaymanot, T., Giday, M., Medhin, G., and Mekonnen, Y. (2007). Knowledge and Use of Medicinal Plants by People Around Debre Libanos Monastery in Ethiopia. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 111(2): 271–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. The Plant List. (2013). Available at: www.theplantlist.org (last visit: 29th March 2019).
  35. Turner, H. W. (1979). From Temple to Meeting House: The Phenomenology and Theology of Places of Worship, Mouton, The Hague.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Tutin, T. G., Burges, N. A., Chater, A. O., Heywood, V. H., Valentine, D. H., Walters, S. M., and Webb, D. A. (1964). Flora Europaea, Cambridge University Press, London.Google Scholar
  37. Verschuuren, B. (2010). Sacred Natural Sites: Conserving Nature and Culture, Routledge, London, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  38. Wild, R., McLeod, C., (2008). Sacred natural sites: guidelines for protected area managers (No. 16). IUCN Gland, Switzerland and UNESCO, Paris, France.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Gastronomic SciencesBraItaly
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and StatisticsCa’ Foscari University of VeniceVeneziaItaly

Personalised recommendations