Ethnobotany is the study of cultural plant use and perception of plants.
Indigenous Australians have used plants for food, medicine, tools, utensils, weapons, etc for thousands of years. However, since the arrival of Europeans, a lot of traditional plant use knowledge has been lost.
A significant role for the Australian Tropical Herbarium is working with Traditional Owners, the Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts (DSITIA) CSIRO and the Cairns Institute to develop an Indigenous-driven ethnobotanical centre to record, document and research cultural plant use knowledge which could be of mutual benefit to traditional Owners and their partners.
The Centre partnership is to empower Indigenous people to renew and strengthen their cultural knowledge and practices about plants. Many Traditional Owners believe that keeping their knowledge alive and passing it on to the next generation is very important. The centre will support Traditional Owner information sharing, practice and collaboration, and also support keeping plant collections and data for Traditional Owners through shared protocols and agreements.
Functions of the Centre include:
Supporting Indigenous decision-making about plants and plant knowledge
Keeping traditional and cultural knowledge alive
Protection of Indigenous intellectual and cultural property rights over plants
Passing it on the younger generation
Focusing on building up trust with Traditional Owners before involving other agencies
Getting information back into the community