Nyani Quarmyne/Panos Pictures

Agonme, Ayou Allada, Benin

Sessouhouede Anagonou, who estimates her age at 67, collecting fallen wood for her cooking fire in a degraded sacred forest grove in the village of Agonme. The grove is now being protected following a Forestry Inspectorate project that sought to demarcate 42 traditional sacred forests, inventory the medicinal plants within them, and work with local communities to create structures for the ongoing sustainable management and conservation of the forests. Anagonou is a member of the village committee that manages the forest, and they have decided that nothing may be cut; only fallen wood may be harvested.

Historically, taboos around sacred forests where Vodoun (Voodoo) spirits or deities are believed to dwell, or where fetishes are found, had the effect of preserving forest ecosystems. However, the erosion of traditional values through modernisation, the growth of Christianity, population pressures, fuel wood demand and a period of government-mandated destruction have caused tremendous forest loss. A handful of grassroots NGOs are now reviving traditional beliefs and once again harnessing them to forest protection and expansion, alongside education about the importance of forests and the development of livelihood alternatives that reduce pressure on the natural environment.

Part of story
Object Name
Nyani Quarmyne/Panos Pictures
Agonme, Ayou Allada
Max size
High Resolution
5000 x 3333 pixels
42.33 x 28.22 cm (300 dpi)
16.67 x 11.11 inch (300 dpi)
6.3 MB size on disk
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