عنوان مقاله [English]
Traditional ecological knowledge of Indigenous and local communities in classification of vegetation, habitats and other elements of rangeland ecosystems can be used in natural resources management. The current research aimed at studying the ethnoecology of halophytes in saline and alkaline plains of Turkmen Sahra using traditional knowledge of Turkmen herders. Data collection was done through field walk, semi-structured interviews and community feedback meetings with herders in Incheboron at Golestan Province and questions about the relation between halophytes and their environment were asked. Based on the result, herders referred to 38 plants with local names. According to traditional knowledge of Turkmen herders, land in saline rangelands lies between two ranges of sweet and salty, healthy and unhealthy or good and bad. Herders continued with introducing seven classes of soil naming glassy, Shor (salty), wet, Naor (small basin), hilly, red and black and they stated that specific plant species appear in each of these classes. For instance, nothing grows in the saltiest soil which is glassy soil, however, with the reduction of soil salinity level Shor lands appear where Cheratan [Halocnemum strobilaceum M.B] habitat exists. Considering traditional knowledge of Turkmen herders different plant species appear in rangeland with variation of salinity which is due to the variation of physiography, rainfall and flood. The result of current study show that local communities possess valuable and rich knowledge in describing plants and their habitats. Therefore, this knowledge can be used in rangeland and other natural lands management.
Local and Indigenous knowledge is part of national capital of each ethnicity which include their beliefs, values, cultures and awareness and is the result of centuries of trial and efforts in ecological and social environment and is transmitted from one generation to another mostly orally (Emadi et al. 1999). Ethnoecology is one branches of local and Indigenous knowledge in which the relations between human and its surrounding environment is studied (Foroozeh, 2014). The ethnoecological knowledge available among local people includes several items such as plants habitat and their phenological stages and time, soil characteristics of specific habitats, landscape and climate changes from past to current situation etc. which can be used for nature conservation and management (Qureshi at el., 2010). Therefore, it is useful to study the classification of plants and their habitats based on local and Indigenous people and assess the relationship between plants and their environment (Júnior at el., 2005). This research aims at studying the local and Indigenous knowledge of Turkmen traditional herders in northern Golestan province regarding halophytes and relationship between characteristics and their environment. Also, classification of different plant habitat was the second aim of this study.
The study area are winter pasturelands of Incheboron located in northern part of Golestan Province which are located at 37° 07ʹ N and 54° 29ʹ E. Incheboron represents an area of saline and alkaline rangelands of Iran. Total area of this rangeland is 13470 hectares where 12687 hectares of this land are available for pastoral traditional systems. The average altitude of this rangeland is -4 meter below sea level. The maximum altitude is 3 m asl and the minimum altitude is -22 m bsl. The soil has a medium texture with high salinity. With respect to physiography, the region is mostly plain with few hills (Naseri, 1995).
In order to identify halophyte species and their relationship with the environment, the researchers conducted an infield participatory approach in which they interviewed traditional Turkmen herders while they were walking on the pastures. Questions regarding the local name of plant species, their traits and characteristics, habitat properties etc. were asked when they observed new plant species. In those cases, when it was not possible to walk (elderly herders, disabled herders etc.), high quality pictures printed on A4 pages or plant herbariums which were provided before the field trip were shown to herders and they were asked if they know the species. In this case, only the information of those plants which were repeatedly mentioned by several herders were used as data to prevent the bias of misunderstandings regarding some pictures. The statistical community of current study were all traditional Turkmen herders present in Incheboron rangeland in 2019 and 2020. Two field trips were conducted in November 2019 and March-April 2020 each of them took eight days to study most plant species including annuals and perennials. All the interviews were recorded using a digital sound recorder. Prior informed consent was sought, following the guidelines of the International Society of Ethnobiology (ISE 2006) and the general data protection regulation of the European Union.
It was shown that Turkmen herders carry vast body of knowledge regarding the plants and their habitat with introducing 38 halophyte species. They had detailed knowledge regarding the phenology and habitat characteristics of halophytes. Moreover, they introduced a local classification for soils in which they mentioned seven categories for different soils with specific properties. Soil among Turkmen herders ranged between the two end of spectrum of healthy and non-healthy soil, or sometimes they called it sweet and salty soil or good and bad soil. Seven categories of different soils existed between these two distinct spectrums including Shishei (glassy soil with highest salinity level in which no plant species grow, not even halophytes with highest salinity tolerance), Shoor (soils with lower salinity compare to glassy soil in which halophytes such as Halocnemum strobilaceum grow). Martoob (wet soil which includes the land between healthy and non-healthy soil where the salinity of soil fluctuates owing to temporal runoffs and rainfall), Tappeh or Mase (hill or sand soils which included the soils on top of the hills which Turkmen herders considered as the best soil or the most sweet soil where good plants such as Medicago sp. Grow), Naor (soils of small basins located on the saline plain where soil salinity has decreased owing to temporal stay of water), Qermez (red soil which included the soil of farmlands mostly with sand) and Siah (black soil which only exist in forest area with highest fertility). Each of these soil/ land categories were characterized with specific plant communities. The result of current study showed the extent of Turkmen herders’ knowledge regarding saline and alkaline ecosystems which can be used and integrated with modern knowledge for nature conservation and management.