On February 23rd Pascoal Gota, PhD Candidate in Archaeology and Ancient History and Anselmo Matusse, PhD Candidate in Social Anthropology presented their research on sacred forests as reserves of biocultural heritage and producing and archiving knowledge of the other and nature.

Pascoal talked about Sacred forests and described his talk as follows: Forests are one of the fundamental elements for biodiversity conservation and play a profound role as a source and resource for several organisms in equilibrium with ecological systems, but current conservational paradigms are still framed in human-nature dichotomy and need to genuinely engage local people as custodians of the environment. A category of forests prominent in disrupting conservation dichotomies are sacred forests. However, there is a need for scholars to understand the underlying aspects of sacred forests in order to develop more coherent strategies that respond to conservation objectives and the needs of communities. In this sense, biocultural heritage seems as an approach promising to meet both the needs of communities and conservation objectives. This talk will present ongoing research about undocumented sacred forests in Inhambane, Mozambique. The research focuses on understanding sacred forests as reserves of biocultural heritage for the conservation of coastal forest mosaic in Inhambane Province.

Anselmo spoke about producing and archiving knowledge and described his talk as follows: After the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew scientists found out Mount Mabu using Google Earth, they started a series of scientific explorations that have resulted in a scientific production of knowledge of the mountain. In that scientific production, Mount Mabo emerged as a “Lost Eden” or “pristine biodiversity”, that needed formal protection, and consequently the placing of the mountain “in the conservation map”. Local chiefs, on the other hand, view Mount Mabo as a first-born brother, to a second-born sister, the River Muriba, and the last-born brother, Mount Muriba. In the local residents’ ontology, Mount Mabo emerged as a relational subject, and that ontology did not fit into the scientists’ stories and maps. Maps are designed to fit a story, but the creation of this story also makes it harder for other stories to be heard. This talk presents ongoing research into the stories that could be lost or unheard due to the dominant narrative of Mount Mabo-as-wilderness.