Linking Biocultural Diversity and Sacred Sites: Evidence and Recommendations in the European Framework
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AbstractThere is growing recognition that sacred natural sites (SNS) form<br/>hotspots of biocultural diversity and significantly contribute to conservation in<br/>traditional non-western societies. Using empirical evidence from SNS in Central<br/>Italy, we illustrate how a similar link between spiritual, cultural, and biological<br/>values can be fundamental also in relatively secular and modernized European<br/>contexts. We show that SNS are key to sustaining traditional practices and local<br/>identities, and represent important instances of biodiversity-rich cultural landscapes.<br/>Based on other case studies from across Europe, we suggest that these conclusions<br/>can be relevant also at a broader European scale. Greater awareness from planners<br/>and policy-makers, however, is needed to safeguard and emphasize the role of<br/>European sacred sites as refugia for biocultural diversity. We review policy<br/>guidelines on SNS previously developed by International Union for the<br/>Conservation for Nature (IUCN) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and<br/>Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and aimed at protected area managers and<br/>planners. We assess the applicability of these guidelines in European contexts, and<br/>complement them with findings and insight from Central Italy. We provide recommendations<br/>for guidelines that are suited to SNS related to mainstream faiths in<br/>Europe.
TypePart of book or chapter of book