Fighting Climate Change: The need to consider traditional conservation practices

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African Agriculture And Climate Change
Climate Change

Forest fringe communities in the Afadzato South District of the Volta Region have called on the Government to consider traditional conservative practices in its policies towards the fight against climate change.

They said taboos, beliefs and cultural practices being observed by the local people to protect water bodies, forests and sacred groves have, to a larger extent, proven more successful than policies and laws aimed at protecting the environment.

Togbe Tsoble Adoka, the repesentative of Togbe Sakrafu, Paramount Chief of the Goviefe Traditional Area in the district, said the Togbe Weto Sacred Grove, located at Goviefe Todzi, had served as climate buffer not only to the immediate residents but the entire Akwapim-Togo-Atakora range, over the years.

He made the call on Tuesday at a meeting of community members with the Accelerated Rural Development Organisation (ARDO), a non-governmental group focusing on environmental protection, to discuss effective ways to deal with climate change threats.

Various ecosystems exist on the Weto Range, including watersheds, mountain forests, savanna grassland, rivers and streams (headwaters).

He noted that in 1983 the wildfires that “swept across country” destroyed many forests, including the Grove.
Notwithstanding that predicament, the people, based on the belief that the mountain was the source of their socioeconomic development, continued to protect it until it regained the original spiritual, cultural, and environmental significance.

Togbe Adoka explained that the Traditional Authority was vested in the chieftaincy institution, which was highly respected in the communities.

“The influence of chiefs and queens in our communities present a potential force for mobilisation of the people for development and protection of the environment against bushfires and other negative practices that destroy biodiversity,” he said.

The Weto Grove is made up of diverse flora, fauna, avifauna (the birds of a particular region, habitat, or geological period), and invertebrates that help in boosting the ecosystem, thereby serving as a barrier against climate change.
The range can boast of antelopes, duiker, headgehog, rats, bushbuck, snails, and warhugs.

Togbe Adoka said the diversity of medicinal plants – Lianas (climbers), seed and nuts, flowers, buds, weeds and leaves, shells of tortoise and snails serve as food sources and for the treatment of ailments.

“The deity in the sacred grove is considered very powerful who we believe cures our various ailments, protects us during conflicts, and gives children to women considered to be barren,” he said.

“The grove also serves as an alternative for orthodox medicine. It is herbarium for the treatment of snakebites, fracture, and mental disorders usually costly to treat at the hospitals.”

To ensure strict compliance to traditional ways of protecting the grove against bushfires, the elders of Goviefe Todzi sent emissaries to present local gin to the other sub-chiefs in the seven adjoining communities to seek their support and consent in ensuring that no one set fire in the forest.

The presentation of the drinks, in addition to the clearly spelt out punitive measures, served as a bond between the people to protect the environments, especially the grove.

These communities include Goviefe Kowu, Woadze, Goviefe Agordome, and Agate, where the youths have been trained as fire volunteers to safeguard the forests for their collective benefit.

Togbe Adoka appealed to the authorities to provide firefighting equipment and skills for the volunteers to effectively deliver on their mandate.

Mr Pascal Benson Atiglah, the Executive Director of ARDO, said his organisation had intensified sensitisation of the people on the need to conserve the forests and sacred groves.

He said it had promoted the planting of economic trees such as Monodora Myristica as income generation activity as well as provided some protective gears for the safety of the fire volunteers.

He called for a ban on chainsaw activities, which affected efforts to conserve the forests.

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