People & Plants: Local knowledge of farmers on non-cultivated plant species and their use in the region of the Napf (Switzerland)

Research in the field of biocultural diversity demonstrates that biological and cultural diversity are inextricably linked. A prerequisite for effective biodiversity conservation is therefore a better understanding of the links between local people and their environment.
This project aims to explore the linkages between plant diversity and local plant knowledge in the Napf-region of Switzerland as a basis for applied projects in the fields of conservation, environmental awareness and education.
The central part of the Napf figures in the Federal Inventory of Landscapes and Natural Monuments of National Importance (BLN site Nr. 1311) where it is described as “cultural landscape with exclusively solitary farms, shaped by pasture farming and plenter forestry“. The border between the cantons of Berne and Lucerne runs across the summit of the Napf and divides the region in two parts with a protestant and a catholic background, respectively.
Because of the unique landscape, the cultural diversity and the solitary position of the farms which entail people to live in close contact with the environment, the Napf-region is well suited to provide new insights into biocultural diversity issues in mountainous central Europe.

Research questions:

  1. Which non-cultivated plant species are known and used by local people?
  2. How does the local plant knowledge reflect the plant diversity and ecosystems of the Napf region?
  3. What factors shape the local plant knowledge in the Napf region (e.g. age or sex of the people, religious background, farming system, education)?
  4. Which non-cultivated plant species are culturally important in this region?

Fotoessay: Mensch-Pflanze-Beziehungen im Napfgebiet

Status: ongoing PhD project.


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