Forest medicines

SCIENTISTS are now advocating that harvesting locally used medicinal plants from tropical forests could be more lucrative than clearing the land for farming or growing timber. When compared to other land uses, medicinal harvesting appears to be more valuable. For example, clearing the rain forest for agriculture is 'worth US $54.8 per ha in Bragil and $46.8 in Guatemala.

However, David Ehrenfeld, professor of biology at Rutgers University and editor of Conservation Biology, has cautioned that "any natural system that is coupled to the world market is not likely to fare very well", He further warned that "many of the people who are now selling products of the rain forest are not very knowledgeable about the ecology of the forest, and this is a great danger." The plants are commonly used in the treatment of ailments like rheumatism, indigestion, colds and diarrhoea.

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