Cultural valuation and biodiversity conservation in the Upper Guinea forest, West Africa

James A. Fraser, Moussa Diabaté, Woulay Narmah, Pépé Beavogui, Kaman Guilavogui, Hubert de Foresta, Andre Braga Junqueira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The cultural valuation of biodiversity has taken on renewed importance over the last two decades as the ecosystem services framework has become widely adopted. Conservation initiatives increasingly use ecosystem service frameworks to render tropical forest landscapes and their peoples legible to market-oriented initiatives such as REDD+ and biodiversity offsetting schemes. Ecosystem service approaches have been widely criticized by scholars in the social sciences and humanities for their narrow focus on a small number of easily quantifiable and marketable services and a reductionist and sometimes simplistic approach to culture. We address the need to combine methods from each of the “three cultures” of natural science, quantitative social science, and qualitative social science/humanities in conceptualizing the relationship between cultural valuation and biodiversity conservation. We combine qualitative data with forest inventories and a quantitative index of cultural value to evaluate the relationship between cultural valuation and biodiversity conservation in Upper Guinea forest in Liberia, West Africa. Our study focuses on “sacred agroforests,” spaces that are associated with Mande macro-language speaking groups such as the Loma. We demonstrate that sacred agroforests are associated with different cultural values compared with secondary forests. Although biodiversity and biomass are similar, sacred agroforests exhibit a different species composition, especially of culturally salient species, increasing overall landscape agro-biodiversity. Sacred agroforests are also shaped and conserved by local cultural institutions revolving around ancestor worship, ritual, and the metaphysical conceptual category “salɛ.” We conclude that to understand the relationship between cultural valuation and biodiversity conservation, interpretivist approaches such as phenomenology should be employed alongside positivist ecosystem service frameworks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number36
JournalEcology and Society
Volume21
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Fingerprint

valuation
biodiversity
ecosystem service
social science and humanities
secondary forest
forest inventory
West Africa
ancestry
tropical forest
market
biomass

Keywords

  • Anthropogenic landscapes
  • Conservation science
  • Cultural heritage
  • Ecosystem services
  • Sacred forests
  • Secondary forests

Cite this

Fraser, J. A., Diabaté, M., Narmah, W., Beavogui, P., Guilavogui, K., de Foresta, H., & Braga Junqueira, A. (2016). Cultural valuation and biodiversity conservation in the Upper Guinea forest, West Africa. Ecology and Society, 21(3), [36]. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-08738-210336
Fraser, James A. ; Diabaté, Moussa ; Narmah, Woulay ; Beavogui, Pépé ; Guilavogui, Kaman ; de Foresta, Hubert ; Braga Junqueira, Andre. / Cultural valuation and biodiversity conservation in the Upper Guinea forest, West Africa. In: Ecology and Society. 2016 ; Vol. 21, No. 3.
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Fraser, JA, Diabaté, M, Narmah, W, Beavogui, P, Guilavogui, K, de Foresta, H & Braga Junqueira, A 2016, 'Cultural valuation and biodiversity conservation in the Upper Guinea forest, West Africa', Ecology and Society, vol. 21, no. 3, 36. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-08738-210336

Cultural valuation and biodiversity conservation in the Upper Guinea forest, West Africa. / Fraser, James A.; Diabaté, Moussa; Narmah, Woulay; Beavogui, Pépé; Guilavogui, Kaman; de Foresta, Hubert; Braga Junqueira, Andre.

In: Ecology and Society, Vol. 21, No. 3, 36, 2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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AU - Diabaté, Moussa

AU - Narmah, Woulay

AU - Beavogui, Pépé

AU - Guilavogui, Kaman

AU - de Foresta, Hubert

AU - Braga Junqueira, Andre

PY - 2016

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KW - Anthropogenic landscapes

KW - Conservation science

KW - Cultural heritage

KW - Ecosystem services

KW - Sacred forests

KW - Secondary forests

U2 - 10.5751/ES-08738-210336

DO - 10.5751/ES-08738-210336

M3 - Article

VL - 21

JO - Ecology and Society

JF - Ecology and Society

SN - 1708-3087

IS - 3

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Fraser JA, Diabaté M, Narmah W, Beavogui P, Guilavogui K, de Foresta H et al. Cultural valuation and biodiversity conservation in the Upper Guinea forest, West Africa. Ecology and Society. 2016;21(3). 36. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-08738-210336