Botanica Ethiopia: a living pharmacy

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Eighty per cent of Ethiopians rely on traditional herbal medicine as their primary form of healthcare; yet the knowledge and the herbs are critically endangered due to deforestation, land degradation and lack of documentation. In conjunction with herbal medicine research for a masters' degree in Clinical Science (Complementary Medicine) at Southern Cross University, I established Botanica Ethiopia, a community aid development project to support the implementation of medicinal herbal gardens in a rural community in Ethiopia. Two years down the track and a large model medicinal herb garden is well on the way to being established and a rural community of householders has formed a Healing Plants Association to support each other in the development and management of their own household herbal gardens. Local and city councils are supportive of these endeavours and have indicated that they will give this community land for the development of a community herbal garden. These achievements are being documented to form a template for other communities to follow. This is the story of a research journey, working with and learning from knowledgeable, resourceful and skilled household and professional herbalists, and with Addis Ababa University and the Institute of Biodiversity Conservation in Ethiopia. The Botanica Ethiopia project is in joint partnership with Australian NGO Global Development Group, and has been supported with funds from Blackmores Ltd., AACASA (Australian African Children's Adoption Support Association) and private donations.

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