Moving beyond the sacred: the role of traditional spiritual values in plant conservation planning
Plant use in the context of traditional spiritual values can provide valuable data for conservation planning e.g. by providing baseline data on possibly threatened species. We documented two different restrictions (taboos and ritual sacrifices) related to the use of ritual plants in Benin (West Africa) and Gabon (Central Africa). We wanted to see if these restrictions reflected plant scarcity from an etic (official threat status) and an emic (perceived scarcity) viewpoint. Restricted plants were twice as often officially threatened or perceived as scarce than non-restricted plants in Benin. In Gabon, the most forested of the two countries, only plants that were perceived as scarce were significantly related to restrictions. These results suggest a form of adaptive management where restrictions related to ritual plant use are more prevalent in compromised landscapes.