Now it is seen, ethnobotany as a field is on the rise. The future of ethnobotany lies squarely in conservation of both plant species and the cultures that know how to use them. As scientists who work directly with cultures and their natural resources, ethnobotanists are in a unique position to promote strategies for conservation. Ethnobotanists of the future need to develop methods that empower the people with whom they work.
For much of the last century, ethnobotanists have spent their time documenting uses of plants and in finding ways to apply the knowledge of one culture for the benefit of another. They must look beyond this and find ways to safeguard the rights and knowledge of the people with whom they study as well as analyze more complex issues relating to interdisciplinary applications of cultural knowledge and uses of plants.
Field ethnobotanists have not yet received the same level of support and respect, primarily comparing with other biotechnological or biological discipline because interest in this field has only just reemerged. Yet, the field is growing. New scientific journals and societies have begun to disseminate the studies of the ethnobotanists to peers, other scientists, and policy makers worldwide.
The 1990’s are an exciting time for an ethnobotanist. Ethnobotany issues are the focus of much public attention. Due to increased public interest and policy making in conservation, companies are looking to plants for new approaches to food, medicines, and energy sources. University departments are opening positions for interdisciplinary-trained ethnobotanists.
Ethnobotanists must develop methods to convey important information to the communities with which they work, treating indigenous collaborators as coauthors and establishing contracts with communities or tribal groups to ensure that a percentage of any future profits are returned to those cultures which originally held such knowledge. The future looks promising for these dedicated scientists in a fascinating and vital field of research.
Return from Future of Ethnobotany to Ethnobotany Database Homepage