Purdue University

    Balancing Biodiversity and Culture: Vodun's Role in Forest Preservation in Benin and Peacebuilding in Mali

    Presenters: Juilia Bello-Bravo (Ag Sci) and Anne Lutomia (Post-doc in Entomology)

    Engaging local communities in biodiversity conservation is a complex task, often complicated by cultural misunderstandings. In Benin and Mali, where biodiversity is under threat, integrating local traditions can mitigate conflicts and enhance conservation. Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO), a Purdue University initiative, employs innovative methods to engage locals in sustainable biodiversity solutions.

    In Benin, a forest once deemed 'the evil forest', has been preserved through a merging of the community's use of Vodun (Voudou) practices for forest management and a commitment to preserving biodiversity. Vodun, integral to local culture, can serve as a cultural-spiritual deterrent against the destruction of these sacred forests outright (especially through sale), thereby aiding in biodiversity conservation.

    In Mali, the focus shifts to peacebuilding, but the principle remains: local traditions are key in resolving conflicts and promoting sustainability. By acknowledging these cultural values, more inclusive and effective conservation strategies can be developed.

    Both cases underscore the importance of aligning conservation with local beliefs. By doing so, we can achieve a harmonious balance between biodiversity preservation and cultural respect, demonstrating that the two are not mutually exclusive but can coexist and even complement each other.

    Contact Details

    Ximena Bernal



    Back to events

    Date & time

    September 29, 2023

    12:00 PM - 1:30 PM


    MRGN 129


    Event website