Cultural and Spiritual Significance of Nature in Protected Areas : Governance, Management and Policy book cover
1st Edition

Cultural and Spiritual Significance of Nature in Protected Areas
Governance, Management and Policy

ISBN 9781138091191
Published August 8, 2018 by Routledge
334 Pages 73 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Cultural and spiritual bonds with ‘nature’ are among the strongest motivators for nature conservation; yet they are seldom taken into account in the governance and management of protected and conserved areas. The starting point of this book is that to be sustainable, effective, and equitable, approaches to the management and governance of these areas need to engage with people’s deeply held cultural, spiritual, personal, and community values, alongside inspiring action to conserve biological, geological, and cultural diversity.

Since protected area management and governance have traditionally been based on scientific research, a combination of science and spirituality can engage and empower a variety of stakeholders from different cultural and religious backgrounds. As evidenced in this volume, stakeholders range from indigenous peoples and local communities to those following mainstream religions and those representing the wider public. The authors argue that the scope of protected area management and governance needs to be extended to acknowledge the rights, responsibilities, obligations, and aspirations of stakeholder groups and to recognise the cultural and spiritual significance that ‘nature’ holds for people.

The book also has direct practical applications. These follow the IUCN Best Practice Guidelines for protected and conserved area managers and present a wide range of case studies from around the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Americas.

Table of Contents


1. Cultural and Spiritual Significance of Nature in Protected and Conserved Areas: The 'deeply seated bond'

Steve Brown and Bas Verschuuren


2. Implications of the Diversity of Concepts and Values of Nature in the Management and Governance of Protected and Conserved Areas

Josep-Maria Mallarach, Fabrizio Frascaroli, Will Tuladhar-Douglas, Jonathan Liljeblad, Radhika Borde, Edwin Bernbaum, and Bas Verschuuren

3. Meaningful Nature Experiences: Pathways for deepening connections between people and place

Matthew J. Zylstra

4. Mainstream Faith Participation in Protected and Conserved Areas

Martin Palmer

5. Spiritual Governance as an Indigenous Behavioural Practice: Implications for protected and conserved areas

John Studley and Peter Horsley

6. Exploring the Usefulness of Nature/Culture Convergences in World Heritage: The case of authenticity

Kristal Buckley

7. Buddhism and the Management of Sacred Sites for Biodiversity

Will Tuladhar-Douglas

8. The Significance of Indigenous Nature Spirituality

Radhika Borde

9. The Cultural and Spiritual Significance of Nature: Involving the general public in the management and governance of protected areas

Edwin Bernbaum


10. Connecting Practice: Defining new methods and strategies to further integrate natural and cultural heritage under the World Heritage Convention

Letícia Leitão, Leanna Wigboldus, Gwenaëlle Bourdin, Tim Badman, Zsuzsa Tolnay, and Oscar Mthimkhulu

11. Entangled Landscapes: Connecting conservation practices for naturecultures in the Mongolian Altai

Steve Brown and Bas Verschuuren

12. Culture and Nature: The case of the Ramsar Convention on wetlands

Dave Pritchard

13. Developing Guidelines for Integrating Cultural and Spiritual Values into the Protected Areas of Spain

Josep-Maria Mallarach, Marta Múgica, Alberto de Armas, and Eulàlia Comas

14. Managing Religious Pilgrimage to Sacred Sites in Indian Protected Areas

Chantal Elkin, Sanjay Rattan, Soubadra Devy, and Ganesh Thyagarajan


15. China’s Community Fengshui Forests: Spiritual ecology and nature conservation

Chris Coggins, Jesse Minor, Bixia Chen, Yaoqi Zhang, Peter Tiso, James Lam, and Cem Gultekin

16. Father Forest: Batwa culture and the management of national parks in Uganda’s Albertine Rift

Medard Twinamatsiko, Mark Infield, and Arthur Mugisha

17. Kaio, kapwier, nepek, and nuk: Human and non-human agency and 'conservation' on Tanna, Vanuatu

James L. Flexner, Lamont Lindstrom, Francis Hickey, and Jacob Kapere

18. Exploring Spiritual and Religious Values in Landscapes of Production: Lessons and examples from Italy

Fabrizio Frascaroli and Thora Fjeldsted

19. The Nature of Attachment: An Australian experience

Steve Brown

20. Reflections on the Spiritual and Relational Contexts of Cultural and Spiritual Significance of Nature in Protected and Conserved Areas

Bas Verschuuren and Steve Brown

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Bas Verschuuren is a freelance biocultural adviser and associate researcher at the Department of Sociology of Development and Change at Wageningen University, the Netherlands. He combines his experience in conservation projects with applied research on the cultural, spiritual, and sacred dimensions of nature in management and policy.

Steve Brown is an honorary associate with the Museum and Heritage Studies Program at the University of Sydney, Australia. His research interests include: conceptualising and operationalising place-attachment in heritage theory and practice; the integration of naturecultures in the heritage management of protected areas; and the material culture of domestic homes and gardens.


'At the heart of this book is the contributors' desire to make conservation more sustainable, equitable and effective by engaging with deeply held cultural and spiritual values to inspire action to conserve cultural, geological and biological diversity. In many places their passions for this mission shines through' - Helen Schneider, Fauna and Flora International, Cambridge, UK   (