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Rainforest pharmacopeia in Madagascar provides high value for current local and prospective global uses

  • Author(s): Golden, CD
  • Rasolofoniaina, BJR
  • Anjaranirina, EJG
  • Nicolas, L
  • Ravaoliny, L
  • Kremen, C
  • et al.
Abstract

Botanical diversity provides value to humans through carbon sequestration, air and water purification, and the provisioning of wild foods and ethnomedicines. Here we calculate the value of botanical ethnomedicines in a rainforest region of Madagascar, the Makira Protected Area, using a substitution method that combines replacement costs and choice modeling. The Makira watershed may comprise approximately 0.8% of global botanical diversity and possesses enormous value both in its ability to provision botanical ethnomedicines to local people and as a source of potentially novel pharmaceutical drugs for society as a whole. Approximately 241 locally-recognized species are used as ethnomedicines, including 113 agricultural or weed species. We equated each ethnomedicinal treatment to the monetary value of a comparable pharmaceutical treatment adjusted by personal preferences in perceived efficacy (rather than from known or assumed medicinal equivalency). The benefit value of these botanical ethnomedicines per individual is $5.40-7.90 per year when using the value of highly subsidized Malagasy pharmaceuticals and $100.60-287.40 when using the value of American pharmaceuticals. Using local pharmaceuticals as substitutes, the value per household is $30.24-44.30 per year, equivalent to 43-63% of median annual household income, demonstrating their local importance. Using the value of American pharmaceuticals, the amount is equivalent to 22-63% of the median annual health care expenditures for American adults under 45 in 2006. The potential for developing novel biomedicines from the Makira watershed's unique flora ranges in untapped benefit value from $0.3-5.7 billion for American pharmaceutical companies, non-inclusive of the importance of providing novel medicines and improved healthcare to society. This study provides evidence of the tremendous current local and prospective global value of botanical ethnomedicines and furthers arguments for the conservation of tropical forests for sustainable use. © 2012 Golden et al.

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