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Academic & Professional Books  Conservation & Biodiversity  Conservation & Biodiversity: General

Sacred Natural Sites Conserving Nature and Culture

Edited By: Bas Verschuuren, Robert Wild, Jeffrey A McNeely and Gonzalo Oviedo
310 pages, B/w illus
Publisher: Earthscan
Sacred Natural Sites
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  • Sacred Natural Sites ISBN: 9781849711678 Paperback Sep 2010 Usually dispatched within 6 days
Price: £37.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Sacred Natural Sites are the world's oldest protected places. Some of the most prominent examples include Uluru (Ayer's Rock, Australia), Mount Fuji (Japan), Sagarmatha /Chomolongma (Mt Everest, Nepal and China), the River Ganges (India), the Sacred Groves of India, Lake Titicaca (Bolivia and Peru) and Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania ). This book focuses on some of these iconic sites but more on lesser known examples such as the Holy Hills (China), the Golden Mountains of Altai (Russia), Holy Island of Lindisfarne (UK) and the sacred lakes of the Niger Delta (Nigeria).

Across a wide range of case studies from throughout the world, authors describe these sacred mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, groves, islands, seas, and landscapes and the species that live in them. Sacred natural sites are shown to contain remarkable biodiversity and therefore can make a significant contribution to halting the catastrophic extinction of wild species of plants and animals as well as the decline and damage of habitats and ecosystems. They also display a broad array of cultural diversity, languages, rituals, traditional knowledge, art, song, story, dance and identity and therefore appear of universal humanitarian value. Religion can partner with conservation science in sacred natural sites for the pragmatic and effective protection of nature.

Often cared for by their traditional custodian community, sacred natural sites represent a wide diversity of socio-ecological models that can help find approaches for more sustainable lifestyles and human-nature relationships for the world at large. This book illustrates that sacred natural sites, although often under threat, exist within and outside formally recognised protected areas and heritage sites. Sacred sites may well be some of the last strongholds for building resilient networks of connected landscapes as well as forming important nodes for maintaining a dynamic cultural fabric in the face of global change.

The book therefore bridges the gap between approaches to the conservation of cultural and biological diversity. It applies a multidisciplinary approach to recognizing, understanding and managing sacred natural sites. It provides examples of how economic benefits - such as from tourism and fisheries - can be compatible goals with the conservation of sacred biodiversity and thus advancing the welfare of both people and wildlife. It concludes that conservation efforts are likely to be successful only if the cultural and spiritual values are taken into account together with the socio-economic interests of the custodian communities and other relevant stakeholders.


Foreword Preface Introduction SECTION ONE: Sacred Dimensions of Biological and Cultural Diversity. Introduction 1. Conservation of Biodiversity in Sacred Natural Sites in Asia and Africa: a Review of the Scientific Literature 2. Sacred Mountains and Global Change: Impacts and Responses 3. Falling Between the "Cracks" of Conservation and Religion: The Role of Stewardship for Sacred Trees and Groves 4. Management of a Sacred Nature: Leveraging Biological and Cultural Dimensions of Sacred Natural Sites 5. The Enchanted Earth: Numinous Sacred Sites SECTION TWO: Analysis, Management and Planning. Introduction 6. Nature Saint and Holy Island, Ancient Values in a Modern Economy: The Enduring Influence of St Cuthbert and Lindisfarne, United Kingdom 7. The Road to the Future? The Bio-cultural Values of the Holy Hill Forests of Yunnan Province, China 8. Tourism Meets the Sacred: Khumbu Sherpa Place-Based Spiritual Values in Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) National Park and Buffer Zone, Nepal 9. Uncovering the Intangible Values of Earth Care: Using Cognition to Reveal the Eco-Spiritual Domains and Sacred Values of the Peoples of Eastern Kham 10. Ancestral Beliefs and Conservation: The Case of Sacred Areas in Bandjoun, West Cameroon 11. The Crocodile is our Brother: Conservation Management of the Sacred Lakes of the Niger Delta, Nigeria 12. Seeking and Securing Sacred Natural Sites among the Windward Maroons: Cultural Levers for Protected Area Management at Rio Tinto, Jamaica 13. How African-based Winti Belief Helps to Protect Forests in Suriname SECTION THREE: Recognition, Global Governance and Action Introduction 14. Sacred Natural Sites, Cultural Landscapes and UNESCO's Action 15. The Cultural and Spiritual Values of Wetlands and their Sacred Natural Sites in the Ramsar Convention 16. Synergies and Challenges for Legal Protection of Sacred Natural Sites in the South Pacific 17. Delos Initiative, Experience with Sacred Natural Sites in Technologically Developed Countries 18. Sacred Natural Sites, Biodiversity and Well-Being; the Role of Sacred Sites in Endogenous Development in the Compas network 19. Developing and Testing a Methodology and Tools for the Inventory of Sacred Natural Sites of Indigenous and Traditional Peoples in Mexico 20. Culture-Based Conservation and Recovery of Sacred Groves: Experiences from the North Western Ghats, Maharastra, India SECTION FOUR: Equity and Living Culture Introduction 21. Sacred Valley, Conservation Management and Indigenous Survival: Uch Enmek Indigenous Nature Park, Altai Republic, Russia 22. Culture, Conservation and Co-management: Mapping Soliga Stake in Biodiversity Conservation in Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary, India 23. Community-Based Ecotourism at Tafi Atome Sacred Monkey Sanctuary in Ghana 24. Towards a Sustainable Management and Enhanced Protection of Sacred Marine Areas at Palawan's Coron Island Ancestral Domain, Philippines 25. The Devi as Ecofeminist Warrior: Reclaiming the Role of Sacred Natural Sites in East-Central India CONCLUSIONS

Customer Reviews


Bas Verschuuren is a scientist and facilitator with EarthCollective and serves as Co-chair with IUCN's Specialist Group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas. Bas has over 10 years of international experience integrating cultural and spiritual values in conservation management and policy. Robert G. Wild is an ecologist and social scientist with 25 years practical experience of working with communities at protected areas in East Africa, Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Europe. He is chair of the IUCN's Specialist Group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas. Jeffrey A. McNeely is Senior Science Advisor at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). He has worked in international conservation for over forty years and has written or edited dozens of books on a wide range of topics that include cultural values of nature. Gonzalo Oviedo is an anthropologist and environmentalist and works as Senior Adviser for Social Policy at the International Union for Conservation of Nature facilitating the integration of social issues in conservation work worldwide. Gonzalo focuses on livelihood security, culture, rights and governance.
Edited By: Bas Verschuuren, Robert Wild, Jeffrey A McNeely and Gonzalo Oviedo
310 pages, B/w illus
Publisher: Earthscan
Media reviews
'This book is being published in the International Year of Biodiversity, which gives it special importance as an expression of the special relationship between people and the rest of nature. It offers us an opportunity to remind ourselves of the deep and meaningful relationships that many religions and faith communities have with nature, demonstrated by their devotion to sacred natural sites such as those described in these pages.' Julia Marton-Lefi? vre, Director General, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Gland, Switzerland 'If science is to serve life on this planet, we need more than just intellectual rigour, we also need ethical vigour. That demands values. But what might inform these? One basis is that which human experience has termed 'the sacred'. For some, 'the sacred' is a hypothetical concept. For others, it is a function of empirical experience in consciousness. Either way, this milestone of a book shows that the impact on nature conservation can be hugely positive, inviting scholarly critique and appreciation.' Professor Alastair McIntosh, Centre for Human Ecology, University of Strathclyde, UK and author of Soil and Soul 'Sacred Natural Sites sports an international all-star cast and concise, no-nonsense chapters. The study of sacred natural areas has come of age, and this is the book to prove it.' Fikret Berkes, Distinguished Professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of Manitoba, and the author of Sacred Ecology @quote: 'This excellent book is a welcome addition to the academic and professional literature in the relationship between people and nature. The book is a must for all managers of heritage places where sacred natural sites occur, academics, heritage professionals, and students, not just of sacred natural sites but for those also from the culture side. It also ought to be brought to the attention of those preparing World Heritage nominations and to government agencies where the less famous examples exist outside formally protected areas and heritage sites'. -- Ken Taylor, IJHS Australia.
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