MM Hills

Plant diversity in the indigenous food system and the effective management of common invasive plants.


Harisha R.P.*, Gowthami R, Siddappa Setty R. and Madesh M.

Centre for Environment and Development, ATREE

Indigenous dietary practices have developed and are driven by the availability of local food resources since human civilizations across the world. The voice of the indigenous food system on locally available wild food plants (WFP) and consumption is an important strategy to sustain interrelated food problems of malnutrition and disease. The study assessed the vital importance of WFP use among the forest-dwelling communities. Community perceptions were used to assess the use of patterns and interrelations of human well-being. Data was collected through a combination of semi-structured interviews, household surveys, focus group discussions, and key informants’ interviews in eight villages. The taxonomical distribution and diversity of 126 species belonging to 94 genera and 58 families have been assessed. A high proportion of wild leaves as greens fall in the category of weeds (83%). There were 15 species WFPs that have been shared as neighbors in the village, close relatives, or friends. More than 28 species of leafy vegetables are used by 80 to 100% of households for more than 20 days a year. The local communities also use 120 wild edible herbs and root species as medicine in the indigenous system of preparation for common sicknesses like fever, cold, cough, headache, stomach ache, ulcer, and skin allergies. Many WFP have been used frequently as vegetables, they were reported to increase iron in the blood and reduce blood pressure, and improve eyesight. The study would help to evaluate the potential of WFPs use as future food in indigenous dietary systems and therapeutic practices.
Keywords: Indigenous food system, dietary diversity, therapeutic value, wild food plants

Harisha R.P., Deepthi R., Narayanan B and Siddappa Setty R

Centre for Environment and Development, ATREE

Lantana camara is a hostile invasive plant spreads across the world, affecting biodiversity and impacting livelihoods of local communities. We have adopted a novel approach that uses Lantana sticks for crafts and trained 350 people of Soliga indigenous community and established decentralised Lantana Craft Centers (LCC) in MM Hills. These centres have been registered under the Indian Societies Registration Act and linked to the state Department of Handicraft and Marketing Extension and recognized by the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India. From past 15 years around 350 artisans produced more than 80 varieties of lantana crafts including life-size elephant sculptures, and earned Rs. 1.2 crores.
We have estimated lantana biomass in MM Hills, sampling was carried out in high (100%), medium (50%) and low (25%) lantana density areas. Lantana biomass per hectare was between 30-50 tons. Number of people and time taken in lantana harvesting was also recorded. Lantana harvest by the artisans were monitored based on the distance that they travelled from their village and post-harvest impacts on native species and regeneration. The lantana density map was generated using LISS 4 satellite imagery which is an IRS satellite, at 5m spatial resolution. Five layers were generated as the final raster for classification, namely NDVI, NIR-Mean, NIR-Contrast, NIR – Variance and the elevation raster (DEM), in addition to ground data of lantana presence points and density variance. A graphical analysis was also done to understand the effect of Lantana harvest by the artisans with respect to distance from the villages. We found that elevation had a positive impact on Lantana density, and artisans played a significant role in terms of reducing Lantana density close to their villages.
Keywords: Lantana, invasive, biodiversity, Soliga community, livelihoods