Interaction between forest biodiversity and people's use of forest resources in Roviana, Solomon Islands: Implications for biocultural conservation under socioeconomic changes

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Abstract

Background: In Solomon Islands, forests have provided people with ecological services while being affected by human use and protection. This study used a quantitative ethnobotanical analysis to explore the society-forest interaction and its transformation in Roviana, Solomon Islands. We compared local plant and land uses between a rural village and urbanized village. Special attention was paid to how local people depend on biodiversity and how traditional human modifications of forest contribute to biodiversity conservation.Methods: After defining locally recognized land-use classes, vegetation surveys were conducted in seven forest classes. For detailed observations of daily plant uses, 15 and 17 households were randomly selected in the rural and urban villages, respectively. We quantitatively documented the plant species that were used as food, medicine, building materials, and tools.Results: The vegetation survey revealed that each local forest class represented a different vegetative community with relatively low similarity between communities. Although commercial logging operations and agriculture were both prohibited in the customary nature reserve, local people were allowed to cut down trees for their personal use and to take several types of non-timber forest products. Useful trees were found at high frequencies in the barrier island's primary forest (68.4%) and the main island's reserve (68.3%). Various useful tree species were found only in the reserve forest and seldom available in the urban village. In the rural village, customary governance and control over the use of forest resources by the local people still functioned.Conclusions: Human modifications of the forest created unique vegetation communities, thus increasing biodiversity overall. Each type of forest had different species that varied in their levels of importance to the local subsistence lifestyle, and the villagers' behaviors, such as respect for forest reserves and the semidomestication of some species, contributed to conserving diversity. Urbanization threatened this human-forest interaction. Although the status of biodiversity in human-modified landscapes is not fully understood, this study suggested that traditional human modifications can positively affect biodiversity and that conservation programs should incorporate traditional uses of landscapes to be successful. © 2014 Furusawa et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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Furusawa, T., Sirikolo, M. Q., Sasaoka, M., & Ohtsuka, R. (2014). Interaction between forest biodiversity and people’s use of forest resources in Roviana, Solomon Islands: Implications for biocultural conservation under socioeconomic changes. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1746-4269-10-10

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