Sustainable management and conservation of resources and traditional knowledge of sacred forests
Lead organization: NGO Circle for Conservation of Natural Resources (ONG Ce.Sa.Re.N)
Other participating organizations: International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO)
1. Overview of the project
Benin is a country located in the West African containing about 2 940 sacred forests which cover an area of 18,360 hectares, or about 0.18% of the total area of the country. These sacred forests through their ecological functions (protection of water sources, soil against erosion, habitat for sacred animals and plants), religious function (shelter deities, place of worship, rituals or other ceremonies), socioeconomic and cultural function (harvest of deadwood, herbal or dietary, places of initiation, cemetery) play an important role in the local population well being and in the conservation of natural resources. In addition, sacred forests are the sanctuary of the original biodiversity of ecosystems. They represent a successful model of traditional management and biodiversity conservation. These forests have not benefited from legal protection status like classified forests; however they could maintain the integrity of their resources till a recent past. The principle of this method of conservation is based on fear and respect for traditional local beliefs, on the strength of traditional authority, the power of dignitaries and religious leaders. Currently with the weakness of the traditional power and beliefs, prohibitions are more respected, which is most sacred forests are being unreasonable and uncontrolled exploitation and are subject to a disturbing degradation and sacred forest are threatened It’s urge to save these traditional laboratories the sacred grooves represent and the endogenous knowledge that the dignitaries hold. The NGO Ce.Sa.Re.N will support a new form of co-management which integrates practices and knowledge of traditional and modern sciences. The NGO Ce.Sa.Re.N will work with municipal governments, traditional authorities, practitioners of traditional medicine and religious leaders in conservation and management of these ecosystems.
Contribute to the sustainable management of forest resources in wet lands areas for improvement of incomes and the living conditions of populations.
- support conservation and participatory management based on traditional management model,
- promote the sustainable use of natural resources around these ecosystems in order to reduce the pressures on these resources and increase the income of the poors through improved local production capacity,
- Empower communities on access and sharing fairly and equitably in the benefits derived from the exploitation of genetic resources (ABS) ecosystems involved.
The strategy of the project:
The project strategy is to combine traditional practices and endogenous knowledge with of modern sciences methods for the participatory and sustainable management of sacred forests. CeSAReN NGOs will support the establishment of local committees and management structures with the mandate and ability to ensure adequate protection of biodiversity resources in sacred forests. Development and participatory management plans will be developed. Biodiversity friendly activities will be promoted within sacred forests and surrounding areas through mechanisms and partnerships with community groups, NGOs, religious authorities and traditional and other healers users. Sacred forests and shoreline village food and medicinal species and associated TK will be identified to be valued. For this purpose, the capacity of communities and particularly those of traditional knowledge holders will be strengthened in terms of Access and Benefit Sharing.
Project area and target group:
The project will be implemented in the wetlands located south of Benin. Project target group is consisted of different social strata of the population involved in management of these forests namely dignitaries, followers of traditional religions, the tradipractitioners, farmers innovators, women, men and youth who depend on sacred forest. The direct benefit of the project for the target group is to develop sacred forests resources to ensure fully and sustainably the vital functions that they play. This project will also help improve incomes and the livelihood of local population.
The main results expected at the end of this project are:
Outcome 1: Forests of the area are equipped with functional participatory management plan
Outcome 2: Income and livelihood are improved in the project areas,
Outcome 3: NTFPs and medicinal species and associated traditional knowledge are more valued in the project area.
2. Budget and duration:
The amount needed to implement the project is estimated at US $ 620,000. The project will be implemented during three (3) years.
3. Clusters to be allocated:
Cluster 1: Knowledge facilitation Cluster 4: Capacity Building Cluster 5: On-the-Ground Activities
4. IPSI member organisations involved:
International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO)
5. Contact person:
Directeur ONG Cercle pour la Sauvegarde des Ressources Naturelles (ONG Ce.Sa.Re.N )
02 BP 268 Cotonou (Rep. du Bénin)
Tel (00229) 95 42 50 47
E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
This Collaborative Activity was reported as completed as of January 2015. A follow-up project was subsequently registered as a new IPSI Collaborative Activity, described here.
It is our understanding that Mr. Achille Orphée LOKOSSOU from Benin reported the precursor collaborative Activity as completed at Accra this year.
ITTO also reported this collaborative activity as completed at its 50th ITTC session in November 2014, as follows:
The 8-month pre-project was approved under Autumn-2012 Project Cycle through the electronic approval system put in place, and the financing was made at the same Project Cycle by the Government of Japan, Korea and USA. The Agreement regulating the implementation of the pre-project was signed in March 2013. The pre-project implementation was initiated in April 2013 following the disbursement of the first installment of ITTO funds. As an acceptable version of the pre-project completion report was received in May 2014, as well as the financial audit report, the duration of the pre-project implementation had lasted 13 months instead of 8 initially designed by the implementing agency (ONG-CESAREN).
The aim of this pre-project was to contribute to the sustainable forest management and conservation of biodiversity in Benin by building the capacity of local communities to improve their living conditions, through the conservation of Sacred Forests (SFs) part of Ramsar Sites 1017 and 1018. It specifically intended to evaluate the potential of Sacred Forests located in the Ramsar Sites 1017 and 1018, in order to formulate a project aiming to support their rehabilitation and sustainable management.
The main pre-project achievements and outputs are summarized in the two following tables:
a) Achievement of outputs
b) Achievement of objectives
IV. Outcomes and Impacts
The main pre-project outcomes and impacts, in relation to the expected outputs and associated activities, can be summarized as follows:
V. Lessons Learnt and sustainability
5.1 Lessons learnt
For the project derived from the implementation of this pre-project, it was important to give priority to the establishment of a consultation technical committee aiming to address the issue of cultural beliefs and taboo linked to SFs in Benin, in order the ensure the involvement of key stakeholders operating in the target zone. The implementation of this pre-project was an opportunity for sensitization campaigns aiming to show the importance of Ramsar Sites 1017 and 1018, in Benin, which are dotted with pockets of Sacred Forests with a very rich biodiversity, representing a natural heritage of great value for their multiple functions (socio-cultural, ritual, environmental, etc.). These Sacred Forests constitute an endogenous form of biodiversity conservation and play a crucial role in the lives of local communities.
For the future project derived from the implementation of this pre-project, the sustainability should be based on the involvement of key stakeholders, including local communities, through a participatory process to be considered as a key element of the project implementation strategy. The involvement of key stakeholders, including local communities, in the management of SFs part of Ramsar Sites 1017 and 1018, should contribute to the sustainability if their interests and needs are taken into account. As part of contribution to the sustainability, some local authorities have expressed the commitment for the co-financing of the future project.