LNAK10037U Applied Ethnobotany

Volume 2014/2015
MSc Programme in Agricultural Development
MSc Programme in Sustainable Development in Agriculture (Agris Mundus)


The course will introduce students to research at the interface between several disciplines, using methods derived from botany, anthropology, ecology, economy, ethno-medicine, climate and conservation science.
Introduction to ethnobotany; definition, history and disciplines which contribute to an ethnobotanical study.
Botanical methods; preparing a reference collection, botanical surveys.
Anthropological methods; understanding local people, surveys and analytical tools.
Ecology; describing the environment and the plant resources, qualitative and quantitative approaches.
Economics and ethnobotany; the value of forest products, surveys of community and household economies and local markets.
Food plants; the role of traditional food plants in subsistence, as income source and as emergency foods.
Ethno-medicine; collecting plants for phytochemical analysis, ethics in searching for new plant products, and how to return knowledge to communities.
Climate change; peoples' perceptions of climatic changes and its impacts on useful plants and on peoples' use and knowledge of plant resources.
Conservation; the emphasis is on application of local knowledge and the role of local institutions in conservation, sustainable use and community development.


Learning Outcome

The core concepts in ethnobotany are provided followed by advanced studies of people-plant relations focusing upon importance of forest plants to local livelihoods and opportunities for sustainable use of tropical forests. The course highlights patterns in plant use and the role that local peoples’ knowledge, institutions and cultural perspectives can play in plant resource use, management and conservation.

After completing the course the student should be able to:

Display overview of key areas within ethnobotanical research and describe main theories regarding traditional plant use and its relative importance to different user groups.
Understand the role of ethnobotanical studies in community development, sustainable forest management and development.
Demonstrate awareness of ethics and values related to ethnobotanical studies.
Reflect on ethnobotany in relation to local and national cross cutting issues such as gender, culture, equity, environmental concern and intellectual property rights.

Familiar with methods useful to work with local communities to learn about their knowledge and uses of plants.
Select and apply ethnobotanical principals and tools to explore solutions to forest plant conservation and development issues together with local people.
Define and formulate a research question and plan practical field work
Apply scientific ethnobotanical methods in data collection and analyses in relation to a common project.
Communicate research aim(s) and results to the involved community.

Critically examine ethnobotanical literature
Transfer ethnobotanical methods to own research situation
Work effectively in an interdisciplinary group to define a common research project and plan field work.

Gary J. Martin. Ethnobotany. A methods manual. 2004.
Selected scientific papers.

Gary Martins manual is used as an easy introduction to the science of ethnobotany and practical field methods.

The book is supplemented by articles for advanced understanding of hypothesis, methods, analysis and results of ethnobotanical studies within plant use and management.

The course is composed of alternating lectures, exercises and discussions. The lectures give overview of theory, examples of application in practice and serve to link different disciplines. The focus is on critical discussions, including student presentations. To some extent external specialists will be used as lecturers. During the assignments work, the students work in groups. Exercises will demonstrate the application of different ethnobotanical methods and will be used to integrate literature studies and excercises.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Excursions
  • 10
  • Guidance
  • 6
  • Lectures
  • 35
  • Practical exercises
  • 35
  • Preparation
  • 70
  • Project work
  • 50
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination
The oral exam will analyse one or two key issues in a broader ethnobotanical context.
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
As the ordinary examn
Criteria for exam assesment

Evaluation is based on students performance in relation to intended learning outcome of the course (see learning outcome).