How is local knowledge about plants distributed among residents near a protected area?
The interactions between people and plants may result in knowledge of plant resources. This knowledge can vary according to factors such as age, gender, occupation, resource availability, urbanization and restrictions on the use of native resources. This study aimed to understand the interaction between people and plants in two rural communities surrounding the National Forest (FLONA) of Ibirama, Santa Catarina, Brazil. Specifically, the study aimed to investigate the distribution of local knowledge of plants according to gender, age and occupation of residents in these communities. Semi-structured interviews were conducted followed by free listing and guided tours. A total of 104 interviews were conducted with adult men and women, who cited 475 plants found in the region that are used for numerous purposes. Of these plants, 184 are cultivated, 183 are extracted and 8 are cultivated and extracted. In general plant knowledge is shared between communities, in relation to gender, age and occupation. However, there are differences in the knowledge of timber resources, which is found to be higher among men and people with 41 years or more in age. These differences can be attributed to the influence of urban centers and the presence of the National Forest. However, respondents also view the FLONA positively, once they recognize the advances related to the conservation of nature, since there is greater control of deforestation and an increase in local avifauna. It is necessary to develop strategies to involve communities in the management of protected areas in order to ensure effective conservation of natural resources and the maintenance of local plant knowledge.