Rethinking Cultural and Spiritual Values in Biodiversity Conservation among the Konso People of South-Western Ethiopia

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Tebaber Chanie Workneh (PhD)


The concept of biodiversity has a strong link with nature and culture. This study aimed to investigate how the Konso people of southwestern Ethiopia use cultural and spiritual values to conserve biodiversity. The study took place between January to April 2019 and March to July of 2021. Data were gathered using: focus group discussions (9 FGDs), in-depth interviews (with 26 key informants) and observation. A thematic analysis method was employed for analyzing the data. According to the fndings of the study, the people of Konso have traditions of using dinna (holy woodlands) as locations for cultural rituals to relate with nature. The dinna’s survival is dependent on the clan’s leader (poqqola) and the village’s chiefs (shorogotta). Cutting of dinna is strictly forbidden because it is believed to result in punishment by the karroytta (deity of dead ancestors). In the Konso culture, cutting the whole shelkata (Moringa stenopetala) tree at once is considered as taboo since it is believed that it brought famine to the society. The investigations also found out that modernization and religious organizations have deterred contemporary cultural and spiritual values of biodiversity conservation methods. As a result, collaboration among researchers and policymakers is a critical suggestion for sustaining and integrating traditional forest management techniques with modern forest conservation measures.

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