Using Participatory GIS to Forge Links Between Local People's Perspectives and Conservation

mapping for rights conkouati-douli
The mapping of indigenous lands to manage natural resources, and strengthen cultures is a recent phenomenon, having begun in Canada and Alaska in the 1960s and in other regions during the last decade and a half. (Chapin et. al. 2005). Ghana as a signatory to the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in 1992 and subsequently ratifying the Convention of Biological Diversity have searched for participatory methods and practices that would help manage and protect their natural resources.
A practice considered significant in mapping these indigenous lands for biodiversity protection is the Participatory Geographical Information System (PGIS). This geomatic tool is a combination of Geographical Information Systems supported by Participatory Rural Appraisal Approach. In recent years, the term PGIS has become more popular and drawn an increasing attention of GIS researchers and practitioners, particularly in its application in the development and biodiversity conservation context in developing countries.

Biodiversity and Conservation Goals
The overall goal of this research is to assess the relevance of PGIS for the conservation of biodiversity at the village and local level by looking at conditions for PGIS and the conservation of the Buabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary. My objective in this project is to apply PGIS spatial tools to help conserve the Buabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary which is situated in the heart for the Nkoranza district of the Brong Ahafo region in Ghana.
The design of a participatory geographic information system would be developed into an 'intelligent' GIS map depicting the areas cultural diversity using photographs, sound, video, cognitive maps and other audio visuals. The functionality of this approach is to support local cultural relationships and institutions, provide an opportunity for contemporary expression and innovation and ultimately attract tourist to the area to generate cash for the locals. PGIS would be valued for its practical efficiency and effectiveness, low cost, and its responsiveness to goals of empowerment and legitimacy in biodiversity conservation.

Literature Review
Since 1990s, GIS has been claimed as a magic tool in Natural Resource Management as the perfect answer to each and every resource problem. (Heit and Shortreid 1991). In context of areas where multi-ethno linguistic situation exits, it is very easy for people from different groups to communicate on issues related to spatial dimension within the area. Therefore, it is highly useful for negotiation situation in which spatial conflicts are involved (Rambaldi, Bugna et al. 2002). The need for predictive in addition to descriptive natural resource inventory using computer-based methods was argued by Nix and Gillison (1985)
[1] This discussion influenced the choice of PGIS in conserving biodiversity in this report. Geographic information systems however, have the capability to handle several kinds of information that can be related to a location or area. In this case, culture, biodiversity and tourism. Mackay [2] In his discussion on the role of GIS and environmental modeling argue that there is no single ecological unit of analysis, rather a variety of ecological phenomena are the foci of studies, which includes populations, species, communities, habitats and ecosystems. According to his thesis managers require lines on maps saying where things are, and what can or cannot be done with them. Any emphasis to identify valuable biodiversity spots may have to implore the application of GIS technology which besides its contribution in scientific studies, has been accepted as an effective and efficient tool for decision-makers. The incorporation cultural landscapes to promote conservation and tourism are imperative in this case.

The Buabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary which is the focus for this study is in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana and lies within three villages which are Buabeng, Fiema and Dotobaa in the forest Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana. This region forms part of the transitional zone between the country's coastal rainforests and its dry grassland interior. It serves as the habitat protecting the resident black and white (Colobus polykomos), Mona Monkeys (Cercopithecus campbelli) andred colobus (Procolobus badius waldroni)and which are important to the cultural and sacred beliefs of the local people. (Fargey, 1992). The monkeys' lives together with humans and large groups are easily found in the forest and within the villages. There are about 500 Mona monkeys in the sanctuary covering an area of about 4.4 square kilometers. The sanctuary protects Research surveys in Ghana by Oates et. al., (2000) confirmed endangered the Miss Waldron's red colobus monkey (Procolobus badius waldroni), a primate taxon endemic to this forest area of Ghana and enlisted as extinct by IUCN Red List (IUCN Red list 2006).

The monkeys are seen as their 'totem' which are mammalian representations of various tribal/clan groupings of the Akans, a Kwa language spoken ethnic group in Ghana. The term 'totem' comes from a North American Indian language, and it has been widely used to refer especially to objects of the animal and vegetable kingdoms which are held to be in a special relationship with particular groups of people, or individuals in a society. (Beattle, 1964: 219). These totems are based on rules of taboos. Etymologically speaking, 'taboo' is a derivation of the Polynesian term 'tabu'which means forbidden. It is applicable to any sort of prohibition regarding certain times, places, actions, events and people etc. especially, but not exclusively, for religious reasons. Sarpong (1974), a renowned Ghanaian traditional writer suggest that taboos could be adopted to signify a prohibition of any kind. In this case towards the conservation of wildlife. An oral local folklore

[3] has it that: "A hunter who once lived in Buabeng, sometime in 1842 came into contact with a spirit being called 'Daworo'. The spirit led him to the forest one day and saw five monkeys gathered around a pot covered with calico. The hunter was enthralled and could not shoot them. Upon consulting Daworo, he was told to treat monkeys as relatives. 'Dawuro' asked the hunter to take the calico home and when he did that the monkeys followed him home. With time the number of the monkeys increased and the fortunes of the hunter also increased. The hunter attributed his improved material condition to his association with the monkeys and this led to a symbiotic relationship that has persisted to this day. "
Till today any monkey that died was buried and funeral rites held for it just as human Sanctuary to kill any of the monkeys which inhabit the forest and around their villages. The sanctuary is an important example of how traditional values in Ghana have resulted in wildlife conservation. It is however saddening that recent survey conducted by Conservation International (CI, 2000) revealed that about 98% of the over 200 animals represented as totems in Ghana are either extinct, endangered or threatened.

In order for the sanctuary to operate in its potential as a tourist destination there is the need to combine effective and efficient strategies that can be supported by geomatics defined by its comprehensiveness, sustainability and sustainable socio-economic importance. The Global Biodiversity Strategy for successful conservation recognizes this link. For instance, they note that "there must be new contacts and partnerships within communities bringing biologist and resource managers together with social scientists, political leaders, farmers, journalist, artists, planners, teachers and lawyers. There must be a dialogue between central and local governments, industry and citizens groups''. (WRI et. al., 1992:20).

The involvement of citizen groups cannot be overestimated. Hunting and gathering cultures around the world have left carvings and paintings of animals on rocks and in caves, demonstrating the universality of their mystic connections to these animals. Riane Eisler's in her book 'The Chalice & the Blade: Our History, Our Future' (1987) commented that the people of Catal Huyuk and Hacilar (in modern Turkey), drew animal symbols on the walls of their homes and shrines, incised them on pottery, and featured them in sculptures, clay figurines, and bas beliefs. In the case of the Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary these totems are still prevalent in the cultural practices of the local people who practically are living with these monkeys. Harnessing this unique feature in conservation by combining the use of participatory GIS geomatics within the cultural landscape would be a win-win situation both for the communities, tourist and nature at large.

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