From Sacrilege to Sustainability: the role of indigenous knowledge systems in biodiversity conservation in the Upper West Region of Ghana

Enoch Akwasi Kosoe, Prince Osei-Wusu Adjei, Francis Diawuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Analysis of the management and sustainability of natural resources in Ghana reveals that indigenous knowledge systems have played major roles. The aim of this paper was to assess how indigenous knowledge systems used for sacred biological resources have resulted in the sustainability of resources in three selected communities in the Upper West Region. The study used researcher-administered questionnaires, focused group discussions and key informant interviews to collect data from traditional authorities, and community members. The concept of worldview was used to depict the ‘indigenous knowledge makeup’ of the inhabitants in northern Ghana. The study revealed that taboos and totems are the key indigenous knowledge system used in conserving biological resources. Whilst the traditional political institution plays out as custodian of the knowledge systems, sanctions in the form of fines, banishment and punishment by the gods are used to deter local communities from flouting the indigenous knowledge systems. Based on the perceptions of the respondents, indigenous knowledge systems were found to be very effective in conserving biodiversity. However, formal education, Christianity, Islam and modernisation emerged as key challenges which threaten the sustainability of existing indigenous knowledge systems and their potentials for biodiversity conservation in northern Ghana. The study recommends that the Forestry Division of Ghana, Forestry Commission and Ghana Tourism Authority integrate indigenous knowledge systems into modern laws and policies for effective conservation and management of biodiversity in Ghana.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1057-1074
Number of pages18
JournalGeoJournal
Volume85
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Biodiversity
  • Conservation
  • Ghana
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • Sustainability

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