Nigerian forest researcher Samuel Oluwanisola Adeyanju grew up several hours’ drive from the Sacred Grove of Osun, a remnant of ancient forest believed to be home to a fertility goddess. It is now helping to preserve the precious biodiversity found there.
Adeyanju, a doctoral student and fourth-year doctoral fellowship recipient (4YF) at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, said the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove, one of the three studied, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with numerous plant species and habitat for wildlife species at high risk of extinction, including the endangered white-throated monkey (Cercopithecus erytrogaster), the vulnerable monkey (C. nictitans) and the threatened red-capped mangabey (Cercocebus sp.).
“Sacred groves play an important role in conserving biodiversity in addition to their spiritual and cultural importance to many indigenous peoples and local communities (PAPL),” said Adeyanju.
“Our research examined the rationale for conservation in three of the remaining sacred groves in southwestern Nigeria, provides useful information on the practices, beliefs and institutional arrangements that contribute to the continued preservation of the sacred groves,” says -it, “We have also found the critical role played by formal and informal institutional management in the protection of sacred groves.
The research also provided information on some challenges facing the long-term preservation of the groves, including rural-urban migration, decline of ancestral cultural ceremonies, unclear use of income from tourism.
From southwest Nigeria to the world
Adeyanju grew up in Akure, a town of around 500,000 people in southwestern Nigeria where he lived until he moved to Vancouver for his graduate studies in August 2017.
He says his aspiration was to become a doctor because brilliant students had to enroll in professions like medicine, law, and engineering.
“But after my singular attempt turned out to be aborted, I found myself studying forestry,” Adeyanju said. the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “
Catalyze local solutions
Adeyanju says it is important for scientists in the Global South to be at the forefront of finding solutions to global problems, because some of the “bad things” the world faces today, from poverty to climate change, from terrorism to the Covid-19 pandemic are more widespread. and have a greater impact in the countries of the South.
Adeyanju’s research focuses on providing solutions to major social problems in Africa to inform new initiatives and build partnerships for local and regional development and he says this is essential to “unlock the potential of the African continent and catalyze local solutions “.
“Scientists in the Global South are perhaps in the best position to solve these problems because they have first-hand experience of these problems in their communities,” he says, “They can combine their day-to-day experiences with their research expertise. to provide evidence-based solutions. which correspond to local realities.
Adeyanju explained that he brings questioning and an open mind to his analysis of global issues using decolonial, climate and social justice lenses.
“As an emerging researcher and activist, my international experiences and knowledge of forest science allow me to bring unique insights into issues related to biodiversity conservation, livelihoods and poverty, education climate and natural climate adaptation measures, ”he says. “My experiences in Africa and North America have strengthened my position to challenge misconceptions about the African continent and consistently present positive stories from the continent.”
Another conservationist with a close connection to the forest is Rwandan conservation funding expert Charles, whose work for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) aims to enable the whole government and other actors to restore deforested or degraded lands.
As a child, Karangwa ended up in hospital for a month after being attacked by wild dogs displaced by deforestation. Today, he seeks to find business models aimed at preserving forests and lifting people out of poverty.