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Consequences of wooded shrine rituals on vegetation conservation in West Africa: A case study from the Bwaba cultural area (West Burkina Faso)

Fournier D. M. Anne 1, * 
Abstract : Anthropological contributions that challenge several common perceptions on sacred sites are still poorly taken into account in conservation and ecological studies. This paper aims at filling this gap and providing a better framework for biological 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. Our 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. In addition, 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. The idea that wooded shrines are "endogenous nature conservatories" is disproved.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00542627
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Submitted on : Friday, December 3, 2010 - 9:16:27 AM
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Fournier D. M. Anne. Consequences of wooded shrine rituals on vegetation conservation in West Africa: A case study from the Bwaba cultural area (West Burkina Faso). Biodiversity and Conservation, Springer Verlag, 2011, 20, pp.1895-1910. ⟨10.1007/s10531-011-0065-5⟩. ⟨hal-00542627⟩

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