Due to isolation, ancestors have developed a complex shared knowledge of the environment including traditional medicine, where herbs, honey, civets, green pigeons, snail, head lice, ambergris, shark liver oil, dried shark meat, turte and dolphin fat… are used as valuable ingredients of remedies.
Socotri people had to be self-sufficient for all primary needs and have therefore developed strong traditional rules to protect the marine and terrestrial natural resources they rely upon. Such traditional rules are still to osme extent enforced by local village concils:
- ban on cutting of life trees unless with agreement of the village council and for valid reason;
- rules regulating the harvest of cinnabar in order to prevent damages to the trees by unskilled cuts
- establishment of marine sanctuaries where no net fishing is allowed
- monthly rest period for all fishng grounds
Wood is very important in Socotra for heating, cooking, constructions, fencing and also for manufacturing lime used in traditional buildings. As the supply of dead wood is no longer suffcient to meed growing demands, live trees are now being increasingly cut, thus posing a seriuous threat to the survival of important species.
The highlend forest trees have always provided the islanders with useful resins, gums, tannins, dyes, medicines, juices, scented woods, such as the famous cinnabar and some of the above materials are still traded outside Socotra in the present times.
Wild fruit (Cordia obovata, orange-yellow berries of Ziziphus spina Christi) and roots are collected and used as valuable nutritional supplement.
Honey has become a well traded commodity, collection of wild honey was supplemented with beehives by a bee-keeping project