Department of Biology

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Henrik Balslev

Management of Astrocaryum standleyanum (Arecaceae) for handicraft production in Colombia

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  • Néstor García, Universidad Javeriana
  • ,
  • Gloria Galeano, Universidad Nacional de Colombia
  • ,
  • Rodrigo Bernal, Universidad Nacional de Colombia
  • ,
  • Henrik Balslev

We studied use and management of Astrocaryum standleyanum L.H. Bailey among the Wounaan people at the Pacific Coast of Colombia between 2009 and 2011, with the intention of generating recommendations for a sustainable management of the palm. We used ethnobotanical techniques and established plots to monitor palm populations. A. standleyanum grows in forest and cultivated fields near the Wounaan villages, where leaves are harvested non-destructively by using a medialuna mounted on a pole. Fiber is then extracted from the epidermis and mesophyll of the leaflets, processed, dyed, and used to produce baskets woven with the coiled technique. The handicrafts are marketed through middlemen or in handicraft fairs, and they are the major source of cash income for the Wounaan. As a result of the now abandoned malpractice of cutting down palms to obtain the fiber, there is a low number of adult palms, but the population structure shows signs of recovery. Integration of traditional practices with non-destructive harvest techniques suggests that in this region it is possible to conserve both the palm and the artisanal activity, which represents a major line for the socioeconomic development for the Wounaan.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEthnobotany Research and Applications
Pages (from-to)85-102
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2013

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