Yartsagunbu: transforming people's livelihoods in the Western Himalaya

Yadav, Pramod Kumar and Saha, Subhajit and Mishra, Ashish Kumar and Kapoor, Mohnish and Kaneria, Manendra and Kaneria, Manish and Dasgupta, Sabyasachi and Shrestha, Uttam Babu (2019) Yartsagunbu: transforming people's livelihoods in the Western Himalaya. Oryx, 53 (2). pp. 247-255. ISSN 0030-6053


Rural communities in developing countries extract provisioning ecosystem services from the natural environment to meet their subsistence needs, generate cash income and create employment opportunities. Caterpillar fungus Ophiocordyceps sinensis, known as yartsagunbu in Tibet and in the literature on this subject, is a medicinal resource extracted by the mountain communities of the Himalaya. Studies of the contribution of the fungus to local livelihoods in the Indian Himalaya are scarce. We investigated trade and harvest and analysed the contribution of caterpillar fungus to household economies in 32 villages in Dhauliganga Valley, Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, in the Western Himalaya. Caterpillar fungus harvesting has become an integral part of local livelihoods in the study area, and on average contributes c. 74% of household cash income. The majority of harvesters perceived that harvesting had become more difficult during 2010–2015 as a result of competition and a decline in abundance of the species. The mean annual per capita harvest declined by 54 pieces during 2011–2015. Increasing harvesting and trade, coupled with the dependency of local communities on the fungus, may result in greater extraction of the resource for short-term economic benefits, and could eventually lead to depletion and ecological damage. Harvesting of the fungus has already created environmental, legal and social challenges, although it has become a lucrative livelihood opportunity. The ongoing decline of the fungus threatens local livelihoods. Good governance and livelihood security should be integrated with biodiversity conservation when devising government policies and plans for sustainable management of the caterpillar fungus.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment (1 Aug 2018 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2019 00:18
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2019 05:27
Uncontrolled Keywords: Biosphere Reserve, caterpillar fungus, ecosystem services, Himalaya, non-timber forest products Ophiocordyceps sinensis, yartsagunbu
Fields of Research (2008): 05 Environmental Sciences > 0599 Other Environmental Sciences > 059999 Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Fields of Research (2020): 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4199 Other environmental sciences > 419999 Other environmental sciences not elsewhere classified
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0030605318000674
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/35353

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