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Traditional Representations of the Natural Environment and Biodiversity Conservation: Sacred Groves in Ghana

Paul Sarfo-Mensah, William Oduro, Fredrick Antoh Fredua and Stephen Amisah
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Paul Sarfo-Mensah: Bureau of Integrated Rural Development, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)
William Oduro: Wildlife and Range Management, Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, CANR, KNUST
Fredrick Antoh Fredua: Bureau of Integrated Rural Development, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)
Stephen Amisah: Wildlife and Range Management, Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, CANR, KNUST

No 2010.87, Working Papers from Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei

Abstract: Local cosmologies and traditional perceptions of the natural environment, especially forests, have been a major influence in the management of the natural resources and biodiversity amongst rural communities in the transitional zone of Ghana. Sacred groves, which are typical outputs of traditional conservation practices, derive from indigenous religious beliefs and perceptions of forest. Sacred groves are believed to be the abode of local gods, ancestral spirits and other super natural beings. These beliefs and perceptions have in the past strongly supported the conservation of biodiversity. However, changes in local cosmologies threaten the protection of rare species, habitats and ecological processes. Data from the study confirm evidence from several studies in Ghana and elsewhere in West Africa that the tremendous ecological, social, institutional, religious and economic changes in communities that have protected sacred groves threaten the survival of these cultural artefacts. The paper demonstrates that in contemporary natural resources management, the sacred grove model may still be used as a means of restoring and protecting landscapes in indigenous communities. Even in communities where population explosion and economic pressures have reached thresholds that undermine the natural landscape, the model may still be useful to keep pockets of forests within the landscape.

Keywords: Sacred Grove; Cultural Artefact; Communal Resource; Degradation; Sustainability and Biodiversity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q5 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2010-06
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-afr, nep-cul, nep-env and nep-tur
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