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Accepted Paper:

Sustaining the Unseen: Pare Beliefs and Sacred Forest Conservation in Northern Tanzania. Exploring the Role of Non-Human Centred Conceptual Paradigms for the Anthropocene Epoch in Africa.  
Agustina Alvarez (Independent researcher)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explores sacred forests conservation in Northern Tanzania, highlighting the significance of local beliefs and worldviews in redefining nature-culture relationships for sustainable biodiversity and forest conservation.

Paper long abstract:

This paper focus on sacred forests in the North Pare Mountains of Tanzania, which are recognised as biodiversity hotspots and play a vital, yet often underestimated role in biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation. While the impact of Western-oriented mechanistic worldviews is evident worldwide, this paper emphasises the need to explore specific African worldviews promoting ecologically sustainable outcomes to comprehend and shape future Anthropocene dynamics. There is indeed a general consensus in the literature that sacred forests’ conservation is the result of people pursuing traditions and are not primarily conserved for their ecological services. This paper originates from my Master thesis and fieldwork in North Pare and argues that, although younger generations are disinterested in the non-material benefits of sacred forests conservation, other ways of knowing, which acknowledge the interconnectedness between the physical environment and the (invisible) spirit world, persist and continue to inform (positive environmental) behaviour and practices. Highlighting that the illusionary divide between humans and the environment contributes to the Anthropocene and current ecological crisis, the article questions if integrating non-human-centred perspectives into climate action efforts can help transcend short-term, market-driven and externally imposed rational approaches to conservation which have no legitimacy to instigate behavioural change among residents living in proximity to sacred forests.

Panel Eco003
Centering Ecologies in re-configuring Africa studies – emerging perspectives
  Session 2 Wednesday 2 October, 2024, -