Species Diversity Richness

Species or plant diversity varies from place to place and are largely influenced by the ecological and socioeconomic factors. It varies among the homesteads even within the similar ecological and socioeconomic groups depending upon individual needs and preferences. The plants grown in the homesteads are broadly classified into food (fruits, vegetables, spices), timber (timber and fuel wood), medicinal, and ornamental species. Irrespective of homestead size, farm category, and location, food/fruit producing species dominate over any other functional groups followed by timber, ornamental and medicinal species (Millat-e-Mustafa et al. 1996; Bashar 1999; Basak 2002). Bashar (1999) in his study conducted at the central part of Bangladesh (Gazipur district) identified a total of 105 useful species in homestead in which 44 were recorded as food/fruit species either perennial or annual, 28 timber, 15 medicinal and 18 ornamental. Similarly, Basak (2002) in a recent study covering 15 different districts of four distinct ecological regions of Bangladesh identified 105 tree species and 27 herbaceous species (vegetables and spices).

Fig. 16.8 A part of homestead comprising a wide range of tree, shrub, and herb species indicates species richness

Among 105 tree species, 42 were perennial and annual fruits, 31 forest trees (timber and fuel wood), 7 medicinal and 22 ornamental/aesthetic species. Across the regions, a relatively higher number of species per homestead were recorded in southwestern and eastern regions, while a smaller number of species was found in the northwestern region (Millat-e-Mustafa et al. 1996; Basak 2002). The household's maximum efforts are mainly centered upon the homestead as their livelihood since their crop field remains under water most of the year may be attributive to the relatively higher species richness in southwestern region (Fig. 16.8). On the other hand, the species richness in the eastern part (hill districts) could be due to favorable climatic (high rainfall and moderate temperature) and soil (good drainage system) conditions and relatively less human interferences. Relatively lower species richness in northwestern region might be due to adverse climatic condition (low rainfall), poor soil fertility, and economic hardship of the households.

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