Guide to Improve Traditional Medicine in Liberia
A book containing important plants of northern Nimba County, produced by the Oxford Forestry Institute’s department of plant sciences, provides the most useful, rare or ecologically important species with Mano names and uses.
Authored by C. A. M. Marshall and W. D. Howthorne, the publication was partially funded by ArcellorMittal Liberia (AML).
The guide, according to the book’s introduction, is designed for managers of plant resources inside ArcelorMittal Liberia’s Yekepa concession area in northern Nimba County and demonstrates the commitment made by AML to their offset activities.
The book contains information that is based on a Rapid Botanic Survey (RBS) of the concession area, conducted between 2010 and 2012 as part of AML’s Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA).
It includes a Non-Timber Forest Product (NTFP) survey which recorded local names and usage data in seven communities of the concession area, namely Bahpa, Bentor, Gbapa, Makinto, Sehyigeh, Vanyampa and Zolowee.
The authors made 31,775 records of plants across 249 ‘RBS’ (Rapid Botanic Survey) samples. 101 smaller samples were made in savanna and 1530 species were identified and a further 150 taxa with so-called vague names, where their correct scientific names are yet to be fully resolved.
Excluding the savanna survey, the book recorded 21,497 ecological voucher specimens, pressed and dried, about half of which remain in Liberia under AML’s care pending the establishment of a national herbarium.
The book, described as a guide, gives brief details of the species’ names, their medicinal uses, ecology, global distribution, local distribution, availability and management recommendations within the survey area for some of the most important species.
The guide summarizes major findings from the survey regarding Mano plant usage in northern Nimba County and reported 421 of 651 (65%) surveyed species were recorded as useful and 75% of the species sampled had a Mano name and more (257) species were used medicinally than for any other use category.
In fact the guide reported 173 species that provide materials; 103 have social uses; and 76 species are used for food. On the other hand it reported on fewer species that had environmental uses (for example shade trees, fertilizer), and are used as poison, animal food or food additives.
The guide also revealed 168 species that have uses in more than one use category.
There are four pages of useful species and a table that shows their correspondent Mano and Latin names. They included species like Yein-yelee (Mano) with its Latin equivalent Okoubaka aubrevillei; Wei-ba-yelee (Mano) Distemonanthus benthamianus (Latin).
The guideline is a useful guide that can boost the development of traditional medicine in Liberia and the Liberia Traditional Association now has a resource to move one step forward.