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Medicinal Plants in the Atlantic Forest Knowledge, Use, And Conservation

Medicinal Plants in the Atlantic Forest Knowledge, Use, And Conservation

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Published by Marciel D'Seixs

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Published by: Marciel D'Seixs on Nov 09, 2008
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09/07/2012

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Human Ecology, Vol. 30, No. 3, September 2002 ( 
C
2002)
Medicinal Plants in the Atlantic Forest (Brazil):Knowledge, Use, and Conservation
1
Alpina Begossi,
2,4
Natalia Hanazaki,
2
and Jorge Y. Tamashiro
3
ThisstudyfocusesonknowledgeofmedicinalplantsamongtheCaic¸aras(ru-ral inhabitants of the Atlantic Forest coast, Brazil). In particular, we examinethe use of medicinal plants according to sex and age to reveal general patternsof Caic¸ara knowledge and use of plant resources. Data collected through449 interviews at 12 Caic¸ara communities (Rio de Janeiro and S˜ ao Paulocoastal sites) include citations of 249 plants and identification of 227 species.We show the importance of introduced as opposed to native plants and of keyindividuals for the conservation of the Caic¸aras-Atlantic Forest.
KEYWORDS:
AtlanticForest;Brazil;conservation;Cai¸caras;diversity;
Shannon
;
Rarefaction
;ethnobotany; folk medicine; medicinal plants.
INTRODUCTION
Medicinal plants are among the forest resources most used by theCai¸caras, rural inhabitants of the south eastern Atlantic Forest coast inBrazil. Native knowledge of medicinal plants is fairly well documented andthereisawideliteratureontheuseofmedicinalplantsfromdifferentregionsof the world. According to Alcorn (1995), about 80% of people in the worldrely on folk, or traditional, medicine. This study focuses on medicinal plantsused in the Atlantic Forest coast. Considering the diversity of citations onmedicinal plants as a measure of knowledge of the environment and as an
1
This study is dedicated to the memory of Herm´ ogenes de Freitas Leit˜ ao-Filho (1944–96).
2
NEPAM/UNICAMP, C.P. 6166 Campinas, S.P., Brazil, 13081-970.
3
Depto. de Botˆ anica, UNICAMP, Campinas, S.P., Brazil.
4
To whom correspondence should be addressed; e-mail: alpina@nepam.unicamp.br.
281
0300-7839/02/0900-0281/0
C
2002 Plenum Publishing Corporation
 
282 Begossi, Hanazaki, and Tamashiro
estimate of the intensity of resource use, we look for1. general patterns of plant uses observed among the Cai¸caras, alongwithvariationswithincommunities,forexampleaccordingtosexandage;2. specificpatternsofuses,forexamplethecategoryofmedicinalplantsused (native or introduced); and3. data that might contribute to the conservation of Atlantic Forestareas.
STUDY AREA AND INHABITANTS
Data were collected between 1986 and 1998 in different communitiesalong the Atlantic Forest coasts of S˜ ao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro States,south eastern Brazil (Fig. 1). The Atlantic Forest includes about 7.5% of remaining primary vegetation. It is an important area of endemism in SouthAmerica(DaSilvaandTabarelli,2000),andoneoftheleadingareasintermsof endemic species and of habitat loss for both plants and animals (Myers
et al 
., 2000)—about 536,000 ha has been deforested between 1985 and 1990(Capobianco, 1994). Typical Atlantic Forest formations include high alti-tude, slope, and coastal plain forests. This study was conducted in coastalplain forest areas where plant species such as Myrtaceae, Melastomataceae,Lauraceae, Celastraceae, Clusiaceae, Fabaceae, Mimosaceae, Anacardi-aceae, Compositae, Rubiaceae, Monimiaceae, and Ochnaceae are found(Joly
et al 
., 1990).
The Caic¸aras
The rural native inhabitants of the south east Atlantic Forest coast,Cai¸caras, are descendants of native Tupinamb´ a Indians and Portuguese selt-ers. There is little contact between the Cai¸caras and the Guarani Indianswho live inside the nine Indian reserves (
aldeias
) located in S˜ ao Paulo State,which cover 8953 ha. With a lifestyle comparable to the Amazonian
caboclo
(Mor´ an, 1990), Cai¸caras subsist through small-scale agriculture, fishing and,especially in the last 20 years, through tourist-related activities. They liverelatively close to urban sites, such as Santos, S˜ ao Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro,but in designated conservation areas, such as State and National Parks, oreven restricted Biological and Ecological Reserves.Sincethe1950s,anthropologistsandgeographershavestudiedCacarascommunities. See, for example, Fran¸ca (1954) on S˜ ao Sebasti˜ ao Island (Ilhabela), and Willems (1952) and Mussolini (1980) on B´ uzios Island. Seealso Marc´ ılio (1986) on historic and demographic aspects of the Cai¸caras,
 
Medicinal Plants in the Atlantic Forest 283
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