Harvesters’ perceptions of population status and conservation of Chinese caterpillar fungus in the Dolpa region of Nepal

Shrestha, Uttam Babu and Bawa, Kamaljit S. (2015) Harvesters’ perceptions of population status and conservation of Chinese caterpillar fungus in the Dolpa region of Nepal. Regional Environmental Change, 15 (8). pp. 1731-1741. ISSN 1436-3798


Chinese caterpillar fungus is in spotlight because of its high market value, unusual life history, and numerous medicinal uses. One of the most expensive biological resources of the world, Chinese caterpillar fungus is harvested by the most impoverished communities of the Himalaya to sustain their livelihoods. Skyrocketing international trade and intensive local collections from the wild have raised concerns about the status of natural populations and their conservation. We assessed harvesters’ perceptions of the population status of Chinese caterpillar fungus, causes of decline, and sustainable harvesting in Dolpa, Nepal. Most harvesters (95.1 %) believe that the abundance of Chinese caterpillar fungus has decreased during the last 5 years. This belief is supported by trends in average annual per capita harvest. Climate change, over harvesting, premature harvesting, and reduced number of the larvae are the cited causes of decline in harvests. To validate the harvester’s perceptions of climate change, we analyzed temperature and precipitation data. Pearson’s Chi-square tests between the perceptions of abundance of Chinese caterpillar fungus and demographic variables such as harvesting experience, age, place of origin and education are not significant, indicating that the perceptions are independent of demographic characteristics of harvesters. A large proportion of harvesters (79.31 %) believe that the population might recover if collection is periodically banned for 1–2 years. Other protection measures suggested by the harvesters include changes in the harvesting time, regulation of prices, protection of habitat including solid waste management and control of cattle grazing, and development of local capacity for harvesting on a sustainable basis. A systematic management plan that incorporates trans-national efforts to sustain populations that occur across several countries facing similar human and physical pressures and ecological impacts is needed.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to Published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2015 04:25
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2016 06:03
Uncontrolled Keywords: medicinal plants, harvesting, conservation,Dolpa,Nepal
Fields of Research (2008): 05 Environmental Sciences > 0599 Other Environmental Sciences > 059999 Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified
06 Biological Sciences > 0602 Ecology > 060299 Ecology not elsewhere classified
05 Environmental Sciences > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960310 Global Effects of Climate Change and Variability (excl. Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and the South Pacific) ""
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-014-0732-7
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/26433

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