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Southern Forests: a Journal of Forest Science

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Toward sustainable harvesting of Africa’s largest medicinal plant export (Prunus africana): a case study in Tanzania

JR Maximillian, J O’Laughlin

Abstract


Global demand for treating prostate disorders with Prunus africana bark extract has made P. africana Africa’s largest medicinal plant export. Unsustainable harvesting practices can lead to local extirpations of this multipurpose tree. Survey research targeting P. africana harvesters in a Tanzania forest reserve revealed that 78% of them used unsustainable harvesting practices. This research focused on establishing a socioeconomic profile of the harvesters, the profitability of their business operations, and identifying the factors that influence their selection of harvesting practices. Results indicate that harvesters have above-national-average education, double the average family size, and generate income exceeding government's minimum wages. Large family size and high earning potential imply increased future harvesting activity. Logistic regression results indicate that education and training level could predict the likelihood that a harvester would use unsustainable harvesting practices. Local- and district-level government organisations could implement a resource assessment as a basis to design and implement harvesting schedules and ensure that the harvesters receive appropriate training, regardless of their education level.

Keywords: medicinal plant; Prunus africana; net income; sustainable harvesting

Southern Forests 2009, 71(4): 303–309



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