Sacred natural sites

Sacred natural sites exist in nearly all countries and ecosystems around the world. They can be caves, mountains, rivers, lakes forests, monastic lands and pilgrimage routes in or outside designated areas such as Protected Areas, Ramsar Sites, World Heritage Sites and Man and Biosphere reserves.

Sacred natural sites are often being cared for through culturally defined ethics and principles which helped safeguarding them from development. A central role is played by their custodians who maintain these systems of rights, governance and care.

For centuries sacred natural sites have formed a global network of socially protected safe havens for biological diversity and cultural practices. Sacred natural sites are important nodes in traditional knowledge for natural resource management, agriculture, education, health, and peace keeping and as such are important to humanity as a whole.

The indigenous and local community’s guardians in the COMPAS network continue to face threats to their sacred territories today. Hostile national policies, armed conflict, development sectors such as mining, forestry and tourism as well as cultural erosion, acculturation and poverty are some of the drivers behind their concerns that that simultaneously also threaten conservation areas.

Thematic brochures on sacred natural sites:

  • Issues Paper, Sacred Natural Sites, Conservation of Biological and Cultural Diversity
  • Case Study, Biodiversity Conservation, Guardians of the sacred caves Forikrom, Ghana
  • Policy Brief, Traditional Leadership, Interfacing traditional and formal governance in Ghana’s decentralization process
  • Policy Brief, Sacred Natural Sites, A Law on Sacred Sites in Guatemala
  • Issues Paper, Sacred Natural Sites, Monastic Communities Conserving Nature