Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Resource Conservation (International Conservation and Development)

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Stephen Siebert

Commitee Members

Keitth Parker, Linda Lyon


common-pool resources, community-based management, ethnobotany, healers, local knowledge, local plant resource use, medicinal plants, traditional medicine


University of Montana


This research assessed ethnobotanical knowledge in two villages and locally important plant resources in an adjacent private, littoral forest, the Lokaro Reserve in southeastern Madagascar. Two hundred and five plant species were identified through “walk-in-the-woods” interviews with three local experts (an ombiasa, a traditional healer) and two material healers who identified four distinct vegetation communities within the Reserve (lowland forest, higher forest, grassland, and rocky coast). I collected herbarium specimens and identified all plant species found in the four vegetation types through use of random sample plots. I gathered information about local plant uses through a village map-making exercise in both villages and semi-formal interviews with 25 villagers, the ombiasa, two material healers and five mid-wives. I found 70% of all plant species recorded in the reserve are used locally for medicinal, spiritual, edible, construction, or agricultural purposes. In the four vegetation types, 70 to 87% of plant species have medicinal uses. In the higher forest, I found 95 tree or shrub species that have local uses, including six species of Fabaceace particularly important for house construction. The rocky coast vegetation was heavily grazed and contained the highest percentage (87%) of medicinal plant species, 68% of which were unique to this vegetation type. The ombiasa identified more plant species (92) than the material healers in part because of his role as a healer in Malagasy traditional belief systems. The material healers and midwives used 56 medicinal plant species in healing practices in Vatoroka a more isolated village north of the Reserve and 32 species in Evatraha a village to the south. The map-making activity identified areas in the Reserve important to village households, particularly for the collection of Ravenala madagascariensis Sonn (used for building houses), mahampy (Lepironia articulate (Retz.) Domin) (used in weaving mats), and medicinal plants. These findings will be used by the owner of the Lokaro Reserve who is interested in conservation and sustainable use of plant resources by the two villages and in the development of a collaborative management plan.



© Copyright 2009 Ashley Davis Lehman