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Economic Botany

, Volume 72, Issue 3, pp 311–331 | Cite as

Forest as Stronghold of Local Ecological Practice: Currently Used Wild Food Plants in Polesia, Northern Ukraine

  • Andrea Pieroni
  • Renata Sõukand
Article
  • 89 Downloads

Abstract

Local ecological practice (LEP, e.g., the everyday practice of collecting and using plants, including wild food plants) is shaped by nature (available local resources) and culture (local perceptions and knowledge on their usability), including a multitude of factors, among which language and geographical or cultural separation have been found to play crucial roles in affecting biocultural diversity. Also, proximity to the forest has been shown to increase the use of plants. We conducted ethnobotanical fieldwork within eastern and western regions of Ukrainian Polesia, during which we interviewed 118 people. Through semi-structured interviews, we recorded the distribution of the current uses of 70 wild food taxa. The analysis of use records revealed homogeneous distribution of use despite the geographical distance and different spoken dialects; however, we were able to single out the highly sylvan region of eastern Polesia as the area with highest biocultural diversity for the use of wild food plants. The results suggest that in the context of the overall homogenization of local ecological knowledge, the continued existence of unintended contact with nature through living and working in the forest may be the primary factor maintaining the broader LEP in the sylvan area of eastern Polesia.

Місцева екологічна практика (MЕП, що включає повсякденну практику збору та використання дикорослих рослин у їжу) формується природою (місцевими ресурсами) та культурою (місцеві знання про їх використання), що включає безліч чинників, серед яких мова та географічне або культурне відокремлення відіграють вирішальну роль у впливі на біокультурне різноманіття. Також показано, що близькість до лісу збільшує використання рослин. Ми проводили етноботанічні польові роботи у двох областях Українського Полісся, в ході яких ми провели інтерв’ю з 118 людьми. За допомогою напівструктурованих інтерв’ю ми задокументували поточне використання 70 таксонів дикорослих рослин у їжу. Аналіз записів про вживання свідчить про однорідний розподіл використання, незважаючи на географічне розташування та різні розмовні діалекти; однак, ми змогли виділити лісистий регіон Східного Полісся як територію з найвищим біокультурним різноманіттям використання дикорослих рослин уїжу. Результати свідчать, що в контексті загальної гомогенізації місцевих екологічних знань, продовження існування контакту з природою живучи та працюючи в лісі може бути основним чинником, який підтримує ширшу MЕПу в лісовій зоні Східного Полісся.

Key Words

Local ecological practice wild food plants Ukraine Polesia ethnobotany forest 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Our special thanks, however, go to all the study participants from the various Polesia villages, who generously shared their knowledge.

Funding Information

The field study was financed in large part by research funds from the University of Gastronomic Sciences (Pollenzo, Italy), the Estonian Science Foundation Grant IUT22-5, and the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (Centre of Excellence in Estonian Studies, CEES).

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Gastronomic SciencesPollenzoItaly
  2. 2.Università Ca’ Foscari VeneziaVeniceItaly

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