Traditional Natural Resources Management Practices and Biodiversity Conservation in Ghana: A Review of Local Concepts and Issues on Change and Sustainability
This paper reviews the importance of traditional natural resources management practices in Ghana. It highlights the roles of traditional beliefs, taboos and rituals in the management and conservation of key natural resources in the country. The paper is based on desk studies undertaken as part of anthropological studies conducted in the forest-savanna transitional agroecological zone of Ghana to study the spirituality of forests and conservation. Among the major conclusions of the paper is that although the potential of traditional natural resources management for biodiversity conservation in Ghana is enormous, the sustainability of these practices is seriously threatened. This stems from the rapid changes in the belief systems. Both biophysical and socio-economic factors were found to underlie these changes. The breakdown of traditional beliefs and associated taboos which underpin traditional natural resources management practices were found to be the greatest threat to the sustainability of these practices. The paper recommends that more anthropological research should investigate local perceptions of forest space and landscape, biodiversity conservation and traditional beliefs, and their significance for natural resources management. Such studies would provide valuable insights into the changing values of local people in relation to protected areas such as sacred groves and forest reserves and the management of other natural resources.
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