Conservation through practice: conservation of medicinal plants and traditional knowledge by involving ethnic communities

Project Description

Conservation through practice

The Chittagong Hill Tracts has a rich indigenous heritage and is one of the few remaining areas in Bangladesh where traditional knowledge continues to play an important part of daily life.

Herbal healers play a vital role in delivering health services in many remote areas, where modern medical facilities are absent.

IUCN Bangladesh and Bolipara Nari Kalyan Somity (BNKS) are working with ethnic communities to conserve medicinal plants and promote traditional healing knowledge in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. IUCN Bangladesh has been working in the region since 2008 to improve local access to herbal health care services.

The project, which builds on the achievements of the recently implemented One Stop Service project, is focused on increasing general awareness, extending conservation initiatives, such as the establishment of nurseries, and improving the health care centre. It also seeks to provide livelihood support options by marketing medicinal plants and herbal products outside the region.

The project is being implemented in three villages of Bolipara Union and Thanchi Sadar Union of Bandarban district, the most remote district of Bangladesh. The successful completion of the first project in the Bolipara Union of Bandarban district has provided IUCN Bangladesh with the credibility to expand its activities to a new area.

Key activities

  • Establish a knowledge sharing platform between herbal healers, ethnic communities and other stakeholders
  • Explore business opportunities to market medicinal plants and herbal products outside the region
  • Increase awareness of the project through workshops, local fairs and school programmes.

Accomplishment highlights

  • Increased proficiency of herbal healers through education and provision of modern tools
  • Established a herbal treatment health care centre and a boiddo somity (herbal healer network) with more than 50 members
  • Developed an electronic database to document traditional knowledge, including information on key medicinal plants, and published two books
  • Established off site conservation areas and a permanent plot for important and rare medicinal plants
  • Increased community awareness and established a local custodianship of documented knowledge
  • Developed linkages between marketing and conservation of medicinal plants for sustenance.

The project is supported by the Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund (KNCF), Japan.

Deer are common in the Sundarbans.