Indigenous and local knowledge of conservation and sustainable use of Himalayan Giant Nettle (Girardinia diversifolia (Link) Friis) in Eastern and Far-Western Regions of Nepal
Indigenous knowledge and practices of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) play an important role in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Himalayan giant nettle (Girardinia diversifolia (Link) Friis), locally known as ‘allo’, has economic and cultural values for IPLCs living in the Kailash Sacred Landscape (KSL-Nepal) (comprising Humla, Darchula, Baitadi, Bajhang Districts) of Far-Western Nepal; and Makalu Barun National Park (comprising Shankhuwasabha and Solukhumbu Districts) of Eastern Nepal. This research discusses indigenous and local knowledge of the traditional use and practice of ‘allo’ linked with the sustainability of resources. The study investigated the cultural linkage among ‘allo’ harvesting and processing techniques, traditional medicinal practice as well as conservation practice adopted on ‘allo’ by IPLCs of Far-Western and Eastern regions of Nepal. Different parts of the ‘allo’ plant species are traditionally being used by local healers (Vaidhya) and local communities such as Bohora, Dhami, Thagunna of Darchula District use ‘allo’ as medicine for treating gastritis, joint pain, headache, tuberculosis and asthma. The Kulung Rai people of Sankhuwasabha district use clothes made of ‘allo’ fibre in their rituals. The study revealed that IPLCs use the fibre of ‘allo’ as primary material to make ropes, fishing nets, coats, pants, bags, shawls, purses and many more items to sustain their livelihoods. The traditional harvesting techniques; use of locally available materials such as wood ash, white soil; and locally made equipment like hand spindle, wooden hammer, wooden handloom help in sustainable use and conservation of ‘allo’. Increasing market demand had led to a higher supply of ‘allo’ products, hence, people started to harvest it extensively. The natural resource ‘allo’ has been declining due to high habitat competition with cash crops like Amomum subulatum. Therefore, this study identifies the existing status of ‘allo’ for management and sustainable utilisation to meet the increasing demand for resources, and attempts to share the management practices followed in two different regions of Nepal.