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Asian Sacred Natural Sites: Philosophy and Practice in Protected Areas and Conservation

By: Bas Verschuuren(Editor), Naoya Furuta(Editor), Kunio Iwatsuki(Foreword By)

318 pages, 75 b/w photos, 136 b/w illustrations, 23 tables


Paperback | Aug 2016 | #236109 | ISBN-13: 9781138936317
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £43.99 $56/€49 approx
Hardback | Aug 2016 | #236108 | ISBN-13: 9781138936294
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £105.00 $134/€117 approx

About this book

Nature conservation planning tends to be driven by models based on Western norms and science, but these may not represent the cultural, philosophical and religious contexts of much of Asia. Asian Sacred Natural Sites provides a new perspective on the topic of sacred natural sites and cultural heritage by linking Asian cultures, religions and worldviews with contemporary conservation practices and approaches.

The chapters focus on the modern significance of sacred natural sites in Asian protected areas with reference, where appropriate, to an Asian philosophy of protected areas. Drawn from over 20 different countries, the book covers examples of sacred natural sites from all of IUCN's protected area categories and governance types. The authors demonstrate the challenges faced to maintain culture and support spiritual and religious governance and management structures in the face of strong modernisation across Asia.

Asian Sacred Natural Sites shows how sacred natural sites contribute to defining new, more sustainable and more equitable forms of protected areas and conservation that reflect the worldviews and beliefs of their respective cultures and religions. Asian Sacred Natural Sites contributes to a paradigm-shift in conservation and protected areas as it advocates for greater recognition of culture and spirituality through the adoption of biocultural conservation approaches.


      Kunio Iwatsuki
      Bas Verschuuren and Naoya Furuta

1. Introduction: Re-awakening the Power of Place: Ancient Philosophy and Practice with Current Relevance for Protected Areas and Conservation in Asia
      Bas Verschuuren

Section 1: Themes and Perspectives on the Conservation of Asian Sacred Natural Sites
2. The Asian Philosophy of Protected Areas
      Amran Hamzah
3. Sacred Mountains in Asia: Themes and Implications for Protected Areas
      Edwin Bernbaum
4. Can World Heritage Status Help Protect Sacred Sites in Asia?
      Alison Ormsby, Wendy Jackson and Shonil Bhagwat

Section 2: National Perspectives and Strategies for the Conservation of Sacred Natural Sites
5. Sacred Mandala: Protecting Bhutan’s Sacred Natural Sites
      Liza Zogib, Khenpo Phuntshok Tashi, Tshewang Gyalpo, Sangay Dendhup, Riamsara Kuyakanon, Kelzang Wangchuk, Lopen Namgay Tenzin and Ngawang Gyeltshen
6. Indian Sacred Natural Sites: Ancient Traditions of Reverence and Conservation Explained from a Hindu Perspective
      Rana P.B. Singh and Pravin S. Rana
7. Interface between Sacred Natural Sites and Formal Protected Areas for Biodiversity Conservation in Nepal
      Jailab Kumar Rai and Sudeep Jana

Section 3: Legal Approaches and Governance of Sacred Natural Sites
8. Customary Laws Governing the Sacred Natural Sites of the Xe Champhone Ramsar Site in Lao PDR: Implications for Site Management
      Raphaël Glémet, Patricia Moore, Ketsana Phommachanh and Minavanh Pholsena
9. Legal Interpretation of the Sacred Natural Sites and Cultural Heritage of the Dongaria Kondhs in India
      Radhika Borde
10. Forum Pekaseh in the Management of Subak Landscape of Catur Angga Batukaru, UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bali
      Antoinette Royo, Wiwik Dharmiasih and Yunus Arbi
11. The Pa’oh’s Governance System and Kakku: Implications for Heritage Conservation from Burma/Myanmar
      Jonathan Liljeblad

Section 4: The Conservation of Sacred Lands Meets the Challenges of Development
12. Kailash Sacred Landscape: Bridging Cultural heritage, Conservation and Development through a Transboundary Landscape Approach
      Abhimanyu Pandey, Rajan Kotru and Nawraj Pradhan
13. Mount Fuji’s History as a Spiritual Realm and Means for its Preservation
      Toshihiko Ono, Tetsuro Hongo and Kiyotatsu Yamamoto
14. Animism and Traditional Knowledge Disappear in Virachey National Park, Cambodia
      Gregory McCann and Yi-Chung Hsu
15. Holy Hills: Sanctuaries of Biodiversity in Xishuangbanna, South West China
      Lily Zeng and Gaëtan Reuse

Section 5: A Role for Custodians and Religious Leaders in the Conservation of Sacred Natural Sites
16. Lakes of the Gods: Sacred High Altitude Lakes of Uttarakhand, India
      Jatinder Kaur and Khima Nand Balodi
17. Ysyk-Köl Lake, the Planet’s Third Eye: Sacred Sites in Ysyk-Köl Biosphere Reserve, Kyrgyzstan
      Aibek Samakov and Fikret Berkes
18. Sacred Tsum Valley: Improving Biodiversity Conservation with Lessons for Effective Management of Protected Areas in Nepal
      Jailab Rai, Nima Lama and Bas Verschuuren
19. Past and Present Biocultural Significance of Sea Turtles for Local Communities on the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia
      Vanda Mendonca, Boutros Abi-Aoun and Mohamed El Baradey

Section 6: Dualing Spirits and Sciences: Revisiting the Foundations of Conservation
20. Lua people: Traditions, Beliefs and Sacred Natural Sites in Northern Thailand
      Narong Pongpandecha and Ken Taylor
21. Creating New Discursive Terrain for the Custodians of the Tibetan Spiritscape in North West Yunnan
      John Studley and Awang Jikmed
22. Where Culture and Nature Meet: Recreating Spiritual and Religious Practices for Site Management and Governance in Takht-e Soleyman Lake, Iran
      Minoo Hassani Esfehani
23. Ritual and Cultural Revival at Tuvan Sacred Natural Sites Supports Indigenous Governance and Conservation of Nature in China
      Yuxin Hou
24. Conclusions: How the Cultural, Spiritual and Philosophical Underpinnings of Sacred Natural Sites can make Conservation in Asia more Effective and Sustainable
      Bas Verschuuren

Appendix: The Darvi Declaration of Sacred Sites Guardians and Traditional Cultural Practitioners of the Pamir, Tien Shan and Altai Sayan Biocultural Mountain Systems
      Darvi Sum, Khovd aimag, Mongolia, 10th of July 2014


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Bas Verschuuren is a freelance conservation adviser and an associate researcher at the Department of Sociology of Development and Change at Wageningen University, the Netherlands. He is co-chair to the IUCN-WCPA Specialist Group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas and co-founder of the Sacred Natural Sites Initiative.

Naoya Furuta is Coordinator at IUCN Japan Liaison Office and a professor at the Institute of Regional Development at Taisho University in Tokyo, Japan. He is a long-time member of Biodiversity Network Japan and also a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas.

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