Consequences of wooded shrine rituals on vegetation conservation in West Africa: a case study from the Bwaba cultural area (West Burkina Faso)
This paper aims at filling this gap of anthropological contributions providing a better framework for conservation and ecological studies. Local concepts of natural sacred sites and their ritual administration were studied and the ritual practices relating to the vegetation of these sites were analyzed in the Bwaba cultural area in West Burkina Faso. Research shows that these ritual practices are much more diverse and fluid than might have been supposed. Protection ‘by tradition’ is thus rather different from what we call conservation. While vegetation does matter, its presence on sacred sites is not essential. Under certain circumstances, sacred sites may be transferred or reproduced elsewhere. Attention is drawn to the inadequacy of ‘sacred woods’ as a category, in an ecological as well as an anthropological sense. Even if wooded shrines may contribute to biodiversity conservation as a side-effect of their religious purpose, the idea that they fundamentally are ‘endogenous’ nature conservatories must be disproved.
Fournier, Anne. “Consequences of wooded shrine rituals on vegetation conservation in West Africa: a case study from the Bwaba cultural area (West Burkina Faso)” [On-line]. Biodiversity and Conservation. Vol. 20, August 2011, nº. 9, p. 1895-1910. <http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00542627> [Consulted: 19 October 2012].