The Guaraní of Misiones, Argentina, their plants and the conservation of their forests

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    A ten-year study was made of the ethnobotany of the Guaraní living in the Yaboti Biosphere Reserve of Misiones Province, Argentina by the author and by Dr. Hector Keller. Details of plant uses will be given as well as the results of our quantitative ethnobotany studies. Two plant species topped the importance values calculated, the palm Arecastrum romanzoffianum and the aroid Philodendron bipinnatifidum. During the duration of this work we were able to considerably improve the relationships between the Guaraní and the provincial government. Another goal was to encourage sustainable use of the rainforest in the reserve. The ultimate result of the project was the purchase of a five thousand hectare area of rainforest important and sacred to the Guaraní from a timber company to include it in the core of the Yaboti Reserve. The title reverted to the original owners the Guaraní, with certain conditions for maintaining the forest. Ethnobotany can be an important tool for conservation and it is vital to involve fully the local people in any projects to conserve their territory.