Samuel Adeyanju, MSc at Whytecliff Park, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, May 30, 2021.
Nigerian foresty reseracher Samuel Oluwanisola Adeyanju grew up a many-hours-long drive from the Osun Sacred Grove, a remnant of old-growth forest regarded as the home of a fertility goddess — now he is helping to preserve the precious biodiversity found there.
Adeyanju, a PhD Student and Fourth Year Doctoral Fellowship (4YF) award recipient at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, says the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove, one of the three investigated, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with numerous plant species and habitat for wildlife species with a high risk of extinction including the endangered white-throated monkey (Cercopithecus erytrogaster), vulnerable putty-nosed monkey (C. nictitans) and the threatened red- capped mangabey (Cercocebus sp.).
“Sacred groves play important role in biodiversity conservation in addition to their spiritual and cultural significance for many indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs),” Adeyanju says.
“Our research examined the rationale for conservation in three of the remaining sacred groves in southwestern Nigeria, provides useful insights into practices, beliefs, and institutional arrangements that contribute to the continued preservation of the sacred groves,” he says, “We also found the critical role played by formal and informal institutional management in the protection of the sacred groves.”
The research also provided insights into some challenges facing the long-term preservation of the groves including rural-urban migration, the decline in ancestral cultural ceremonies, unclear tourism revenue utilization.
Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria, Osun State: damaged old religious figures in the forest – Osun-Osogbo … [+]
Adeyanju grew up in Akure, a city of about 500,000 in Southwest Nigeria where he lived until he moved to Vancouver for graduate school in August 2017.
He says his aspiration had been to become a medical doctor because bright students there were expected to enroll in professions like medicine, law and engineering.
“But after my singular attempt proved abortive, I found myself studying forestry,” Adeyanju says, “Over the past 7 years of forestry education, I have gained an appreciation for natural resource management especially given its role in combating climate change and contribution to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
Samuel with endangered monkey species at Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove, UNESCO World Heritage Site in … [+]
Adeyanju says it is important that scientists from the Global South are at the forefront of investigating the solutions to global problems because some of the “wicked problems” facing the world today from poverty to climate change, terrorism to the Covid-19 pandemic are more prevalent and have a greater impact in the Global South.
Adeyanju’s research focuses on providing solutions to big social problems in Africa to inform new initiatives and create partnerships for local and regional development and he says this is critical to “unlocking the potential of the African continent and catalyzing homegrown solutions.”
“Scientists from the Global South may be best suited to address these problems because they have first-hand experiences of these issues in their communities,” he says, “They can combine their daily lived experiences with their research expertise to proffer evidence-based solutions that align with local realities.”
Adeyanju explained that he brings a questioning and open mind to his analysis of global issues using decolonial, climate and social justice lenses.
“As an emerging scholar and activist, my international experiences and knowledge of forest sciences allow me to bring unique insights to issues around biodiversity conservation, livelihoods and poverty, climate education and natural climate adaptation measures,” he says, “My experiences in Africa and North America have strengthened my position to challenge wrong notions about the African continent and constantly showcase positive stories from the continent.”
An endangered monkey species at Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Nigeria. … [+]
Another conservationist with an intimate connection to the forest is Rwandan conservation finance expert Charles, whose work for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) aims to enable planning across government and other players to restore land that’s been deforested or degraded.
As a child, Karangwa ended up in hospital for a month after was attacked by wild dogs displaced by deforestation, now he works to find business models which aim to preserve forests and lift people out of poverty.
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