Safeguarding indigenous cultural heritage during commercialisation of native plants

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Lee, LS 2015, 'Safeguarding indigenous cultural heritage during commercialisation of native plants', in R Srinivasan & JDH Keatinge (eds.), XXIX International Horticultural Congress on Horticulture: Sustaining Lives, Livelihoods and Landscapes (IHC2014): International Symposium on Promoting the Future of Indigenous Vegetables Worldwide, Brisbane, QLD, 17 August 2014. ISBN 9789462610897

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Peer Reviewed



In the development of new businesses and industries based on native plants, one important aspect usually receives insufficient attention NDASH acknowledgement of the Indigenous Traditional Knowledge enshrined in such plants and the claim of rights thereto by hereditary custodians. Questions of rights and obligations require considered debate. These issues include aspects of law and ethics; they may concern matters of attribution and reconciliation; they raise the question of sharing in the benefits; and they are impacted by legal instruments of prevailing jurisdictions, affected by marketing techniques, and governed by international conventions. At the centre of the discussion is the issue of commercialisation and whether it can be undertaken in ways that are compatible with traditional cultures which have a profound stake in many species of native plants. The interests of traditional custodians are typically far more diverse and complex than, and usually quite different from, the simple utilitarian objectives of commercialisation in a Western context. It is vital to embrace an appreciation of the spectrum of perspectives, both Indigenous and Western, to understand the deep cultural differences between the various stakeholders, and to acknowledge the significance to indigenous people of their traditional custodianship. Only through such an understanding will it be possible to ethically commercialise native plants and products whilst maintaining a harmonious relationship with those who originally utilised and valued them long ago.