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Plants generally provide valuable functions in livelihood sustenance and indigenous knowledge on their utilization has been applied over centuries. However society 50 dependence on plant resources is threatened by rising environmental degradation especially in the tropics and the associated loss of indigenous botanical knowledge cannot be underscored. Traditional markets are useful sources on information on plants. This paper reports on the ethno botany, availability and consumption trends of economic plants sold on the Kumasi Central market in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, as well as challenges encountered in marketing these resources. Structured questionnaire and inventory sheets were employed in a detailed documentation of information on the vendors and their products. Photographs of the products and specimens were also gathered, prepared and preserved in a herbarium at the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana. Information on 150 plant species belonging to 55families was documented along with a taxonomic identification of new species. Nearly all plant species had multiple uses with approximately 57% and 20% used for medicinal and food purposes respectively. Ninety-seven percent of the plants were non-timber forest products collected from the wild, and 30% of these were reported to have declined in supply as a result of degradation of vegetation. Demand has increased for 60% of the products, attributable to increased recognition and values that consumers currently attach to natural products mainly for medicinal and food purposes. With rising demand and declining supply of some plant species, the sustainability of the natural resource base is possibly threatened. This is because the sources from which these products are collected are usually unmanaged and harvesting methods, although rudimentary, may be destructive. Management interventions that would enable sustained exploitation of plant species collected from the, wild, as well as the development of cultivation methods for key threatened species are imperative to aid biodiversity conservation and sustain the livelihoods of people relying on these resources for survival.
Ghana Journal of Forestry, 21&22:50-71
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG)