In Ghana, small areas of intact or slightly degraded forests reserved for religious and traditional beliefs can be found in many places. These sacred groves, as they are called, have various underlying beliefs and prohibitions, most common is that cutting of trees for timber is not allowed. Though these groves add considerable value to the protected area of forests of high genetic value, which are poorly represented in state-managed forest reserves, yet they have come under intense pressure recently with many experiencing various degrees of deforestation and forest degradation. As ‘forest islands’ they remain among the most valuable biodiversity hotspots for which much could be obtained for the conservation and sustainable management of forests for the future.
In recent times, the role of local religious and cultural edicts for the preservation of these sacred groves has waned significantly and this is not peculiar to Ghana, but worldwide. Sacred groves and other small remnant forests could be important sources of ecosystem services (ES) not just for fringing local communities but also for entire landscapes.