Impact of urbanisation on access to and availability of natural capital for traditional medical practice: Expert perceptions and experiences along Palapye rural-urban Continuum
The article is based on the study that examined the impact urbanisation has had on the availability and accessibility of natural resources used for traditional medical practice as perceived by traditional health practitioners (THPs) and other relevant stakeholders. Despite the availability of Western medical care in Botswana, patient consultation of THPs remains evident. The research was conducted in Palapye, Lecheng, Goo-Tau, Majwaneng and Lerala, a set of settlements lying on an approximate urban-rural continuum. The THP key informants (100), representatives from Palapye Sub-Land Board (2), Department of Forest and Range Resources and Tshwarang-Ka-Natla (an organisation engaged in the harvesting of medicinal plants) (2) were subjectively selected for interviews. A semistructured interview schedule was administered to the informants. The majority of the interviewees indicated an increased demand for medicinal plants, especially in urban centres; and Palapye on the urban end of the continuum was identified as the main local market for medicinal plants. The physical growth of Palapye resulted in the absorption of nearby natural woodlands and the dwindling medicinal plant stocks in Palapye’s wild environment and adjacent areas. Overall, urbanisation was perceived to influence the demand for medicinal plants, leading to the decline in their abundance, especially for species perceived to be of high medicinal and economic value.
Keywords: Medicinal plant, urbanisation, livelihoods, natural capital, traditional health practitioners.