Ethnobotany of Castanopsis in Fengshui forests of southeast China

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 17 March, 2016 - 13:30
, Wai Lun - Bard College at Simon's Rock
, Chris - Bard College at Simon's Rock

Surrounding and within the villages of southeast China are old forests of variable sizes called fengshui forests (fengshuilin or 风水林). Often protected and strictly regulated by village customs, many fengshui forests survived the major deforestation and conversion to plantations that occurred in the past century. These forests are crucial to village health and prosperity, not only in an ecological sense but also in association with numerous village activities, rites, and beliefs that reflect the "fengshui" cosmology of the Han people. Our interviews and field research of fengshuilin in Guangdong, Fujian, and Jiangxi Provinces have confirmed certain ecological benefits of these forests in addition to the high biodiversity of subtropical broadleaf trees, which can potentially provide valuable refugia for the unique and biodiverse subtropical flora of East Asia. Here, we present ethnobotanical uses for and associated ethnographic knowledge and beliefs about one important and widespread genus, Castanopsis.