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Sacred groves versus gold mines: biocultural community protocols in Ghana (PLA 65)

This article relates the events leading up to protests by Tanchara traditional leaders in Ghana against gold mining on the community’s land, which was threatening their sacred groves and water supplies. A local NGO facilitated a community organisational process which revitalised the community’s traditional authorities and role in biodiversity conservation. The traditional leaders were empowered to take action to protect their resources.

Building on this work, the community developed a biocultural community protocol (BCP) as a tool to seek legal protection for its traditional knowledge and natural resources against the threat of gold mining. The article draws out lessons for others in developing and using BCPs to assert and defend community rights over natural resources. It demonstrates the importance of an in-depth, long-term participatory process for developing BCPs.

This article appears in Participatory Learning and Action 65: Biodiversity and culture: exploring community protocols, rights and consent.

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