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Taboos as informal institutions of local resource management in Ghana: Why they are complied with or not

Osei-Tutu, Paul
Forest policy and economics 2017 v.85 pp. 114-123
Christianity, agricultural land, compliance, education, forests, natural resource management, resource management, wildlife, Ghana
The usefulness of taboos as a distinct type of informal institutions for effective and efficient natural resource management is threatened by their erosion as local communities transform. Some resource management taboos have lost their influence on practice in contemporary local communities. Nevertheless, others have survived societal transformation and continue to influence practice. Based on qualitative study of forest and wildlife taboos, farmland taboos, and water taboos in three Ghanaian communities employing the concept of institutional compliance, the paper explores explanations. The findings indicate that due to the adoption of Christianity and other aspects of modernity such as formal education and exposure to foreign culture through modern media, taboos that rely on myths only to achieve compliance have lost their influence on resource use practice in contemporary local communities. To retain their influence on resource use practice in contemporary local communities, resource management taboos need to have instrumental relevance in addition to their mythical relevance.