Since Lucely Pio was a little girl, she has been collecting medicinal plants in the Cerrado, Brazil’s tropical savanna. At 5, she walked through the grasslands and forests of the Cerrado with her grandmother, a midwife and healer, who taught her about where to find and how to harvest the thousands of different plants that only existed there. When picking leaves and flowers, they would arise in the dark hours of the morning, before the sun came up. To harvest bark and roots, they would leave later, collecting them in the brightest hours of the day, but only during the waning moon. Some plants they harvested only once a year. Several decades later, Pio, now a traditional healer, or raizeira in Portuguese, still relies on her grandmother’s wisdom when she goes out to collect plants. “We call the Cerrado a living pharmacy,” she tells Mongabay in an interview. “If you walk over an area, you will find at least 10 medicinal species there alongside all the fruits.” She continues to document and experiment, carrying her knowledge forward to the next generation. “As I continue to study I’ve learned to make my own formulas,” she says. “They are the medicines I use today. It is science, but science based on the knowledge of my grandmother.” Scholars increasingly see this kind of traditional knowledge as crucial to conserving and sustainably using landscapes, including the Cerrado, one of the oldest biomes in the world and now one of the most threatened. As large-scale…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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