Title: Sacred groves and biodiversity conservation in the Tolon District, Northern Region, Ghana

Author(s): Godwin Poreku
Final project
Year of publication:
sacred groves, traditional conservation, herbal medicine, Tolon District, Ghana


The aim of this study is to contribute to knowledge about how a traditional belief in sacred groves helps conserve biodiversity in Ghana. Qualitative data were collected with key informant interviews and focus group discussions from three selected communities. Four sacred groves were visited to measure their location and sizes and the plants and wild animals found in them were recorded. The study identified 29 plants, four of which are listed as threatened, and 23 wild animals with one species also threatened, in the sacred groves. The sacred groves are owned by the communities, but held in trust by the chiefs. Management of the groves is by the tindanas in collaboration with the chief and elders. Traditional management systems in use are taboos, restrictions and bye-laws. Women are alienated from management and cannot access the groves when menstruating and strangers need to ask for permission before they are allowed to enter. Various material and spiritual benefits from the sacred groves were identified, such as fourteen types of medicinal plants for treating various diseases, water, fruits, enskinment of chiefs, inducing of rainfall, personal fortification and cure for bareness. The study also reveals that management of these sacred groves faces challenges from bushfires, encroachment of farmland, illegal plant harvesting and road construction.

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