(MSc student of Wageningen University), investigated governance of the sacred forests (small forests protected by traditional believes and rules) in the Boé .
He has been interviewed by Luis Fonseca of RTP NotÃcias (Portugal) about his research: http://www.rtp.pt/noticias/cultura/aldeias-da-guine-acreditam-nos-espiritos-da-floresta-e-isso-protege-o-ambiente_n982298. The article is written in Portuguese, so we will give a short outline below.
Gautham tells that each forest in Guinea-Bissau has a guardian, chosen in a nearby village, and only that person knows how to please the spirits of nature to give access to the forest to those who need it. If anyone needs a medicinal herb, he must first speak to the person responsible for the sacred forest who performs a ceremony that satisfies the spirits. Anyone who does not abide by the rule risks to suffer the consequences reported in stories that pass from generation to generation.
In the survey, Gautham has detected signs of a loss of vigor in celebrating these beliefs. Difficulties in internal organization after the death of a guardian or financial constraints, for example, through reluctance to share in the buying of a cow for celebrations linked to nature, are signs of diminishing support for traditions.
Gautham states that safeguarding these traditions will benefit not only nature but also the local population. The sacred forests in the Boé are important because of the natural springs you can find almost all sites. If these places are lost, the population loses important sources of drinking water.