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From Tree Species to Forest Services: Ethnic Differences in Lomami, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Economic Botany  (IF1.731),  Pub Date : 2021-09-10, DOI: 10.1007/s12231-021-09527-2
Batumike, Rodrigue, Imani, Gerard, Bisimwa, Benjamin, Urom, Christian, Mambo, Hwaba, Kalume, John, Kavuba, Fidele, Cuni-Sanchez, Aida

From tree species to forest services: ethnic differences in Lomami, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ethnicity is well–known to affect plant species’ utilization, but how ethnicity affects the identification and importance ranking of forest ecosystem services has been less documented, particularly in the Congo Basin. This research investigates how six different ethnic groups (farmers of Bantu origin and Mbote hunter–gatherers) use and value tree species and forest ecosystem services in Lomami National Park, in central Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Data were collected through 24 focus–group discussions with village elders, four for each ethnic group studied. Considerable variation in preferred tree species was observed: of the 89 morphospecies cited in total only two were cited by all ethnic groups for the same usage. Ethnicity also affected the identification and importance ranking of forest ecosystem services. Mbote hunters–gatherers prioritized bushmeat, honey, and identity, while farmer groups prioritized bushmeat, fish, and microclimate regulation. We discuss the implications of the findings for forest management in the Buffer Zone of the national park.