1st Edition

Religion and Nature Conservation Global Case Studies

    350 Pages 66 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    350 Pages 66 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book presents a broad array of global case studies exploring the interaction between religion and the conservation of nature, from the viewpoints of the religious practitioners themselves.

    With conservation and religion often being championed as allies in the quest for a sustainable world where humans and nature flourish, this book provides a much-needed compendium of detailed examples where religion and conservation science have been brought together. Case studies cover a variety of religions, faiths and practices, including traditional, Indigenous, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto and Zoroastrianism. Importantly, this volume gives voice to the religious practitioners and adherents themselves. Beyond an exercise in anthropology, ethnobiology and comparative religion, the book is an applied work, seeking the answer to how in a world of nearly eight billion people, we might help our own species to prevent the extinction of life.

    This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of nature conservation, environment and religion, cultural geography and ethnobiology, as well as practitioners and professionals working in conservation.

    Part I: Overview

    1. Introduction

    Radhika Borde, Alison A. Ormsby, Stephen M. Awoyemi, and Andrew G. Gosler

    Part II. Examples of Faith-Based Conservation from around the World

    2. Caring for the Land, Caring for the Dharma: The Environmental History of Buddhism at Pemayangtse Monastery, Sikkim, as a Resource for Contemporary Conservation Initiatives

    Kalzang Dorjee Bhutia

    3. Of the Wheel of Life and Guardian Deities: How Buddhism shapes the conservation discourse in the Indian Trans-Himalayas

    Radhika Kothari, Nisa Khatoon, Padma Dolker and Konchok Zangpo

    4. The Borgou and Its Spirits: Nature and the Traditional Faith Practice of the Baatɔnu People of West Africa

    C. Ryan Smith

    5. Reinterpreting beliefs and transforming ritual traditions around the Ganesh Festival in Pune, India

    Manisha Sheth

    6. The conservation of Maleku people’s sacred natural sites in Costa Rica

    David Solis-Aguilar, Leonel Elizondo, and Alexander Elizondo

    Part III: Examining Themes in Faith-Based Conservation

    7. Legitimating and Respecting Sacred Groves – Important for Human Rights and Important for conservation

    Edmund Barrow

    8. Spiritual Values and Ecosystem Services of Sacred Groves in Karnataka, India

    Alison A. Ormsby and Smitha Krishnan

    9. Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Forests and Pollination Services across an Agricultural Landscape

    Ashley Massey Marks, Travis W. Reynolds, Sara Hamann, Alemayehu Wassie Eshete, Meg D. Lowman, Sandra Nogué, Kathy J. Willis, and Shonil A. Bhagwat

    10. Cultivating faith: Exploring the role of faith-based relationships in a Christian conservation agriculture programme in the Dakatcha Woodland, Kenya

    Peter Rowe and Stanley Baya

    11. Shinto shrine forests and happiness in Japan

    Ashley Massey Marks, Ken Kitatani and Shonil A. Bhagwat

    12. Spiritual leaders build common ground: Enacting worldviews through legal pluralism

    in the face of neoliberalism

    Bas Verschuuren and Felipe Gomez

    Part IV: Broader Perspectives, Applications, and Challenges related to Faith-Based Conservation

    13. International Human Rights Law Approaches in Support of Faith-Based Conservation Movements

    14. Praying in Brazilian Protected Areas: From Conflicts to Potential Alliances with Society for Nature Conservation

    Érika Fernandes-Pinto

    15. Faith in the West? Engaging Christian faith groups in conservation in ‘secular western societies’

     Brittany Ederer, Rachel Mander, Dave Bookless, Robert Sluka, and Jeremy Lindsell

    16. Hima, as protected area – opportunities and challenges in the 21st century

    Rianne C. ten Veen

    17. Birds as bridges between religions and people

    Mark Coreth, Yossi Leshem and Alexander Roulin

    18. Green Sabbaths: Putting the Anthropocene Era to Rest (Once a Week)

    Jonathan Schorsch

    19. Ecology and Religion walk hand in hand to conserve Greater Adjutants in Bihar, India

    Anant Deshwal, Purnima Devi Barman, and Arvind Mishra

    Part V: Last Glance

    20. Additional Snapshots of Faith-Based Conservation

    20a. A Twist in Central Asian Snow Leopard Conservation – Restoring Ancient Ceremony in support of Modern Conservation Methods

    Apela Colorado, Beth Duncan and Darla Hillard

    20b. Biocultural importance of sacred groves in Kurdistan, Iran

    Zahed Shakeri

    20c: Faith-based environmental action by Protestant churches in Singapore

    Chua Ying Xuan

    20d: Guardians of the Heart of the World: Indigenous Cosmovision and Conservation of Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

    Fiona Wilton and Ati Gunnawi Viviam Villafaña

    20e: Tu Be’Shvat – The Jewish festival of trees

    Idit Pintel-Ginsberg

    20f: Case Study of Forest of Grace in Mongolia

    Hang Ryeol Na

    20g: Jainism and Nature Conservation

    Anant Deshwal and Nita Shah

    20h: Faith and science directing A Rocha’s marine conservation work in Kenya

    Robert Sluka

    20i: Faith in Conservation in Papua New Guinea

    Tweedy Malagian

    20j. Vultures, Grief, and Interspecies Rituals

    Will Tuladhar-Douglas

    21. Epilogue

    Andrew G. Gosler, Radhika Borde, Alison A. Ormsby, Stephen M. Awoyemi


    Radhika Borde (PhD) is a Lecturer at the School of Geography, University of Leeds, UK. She has published on sacred natural sites and sustainability and is a member of international professional associations working on these issues. She also supports local communities in India with conservation and sustainability projects.

    Alison A. Ormsby teaches Environmental Studies at the University of North Carolina Asheville, USA. She is a human ecologist with 30 years of experience working with people and protected areas, environmental education, and sacred natural sites. She has conducted research on sacred forests in Sierra Leone, Ghana, and India.

    Stephen M. Awoyemi is an Independent Researcher and past President of the Religion and Conservation Biology Working Group, Society for Conservation Biology. He holds a PhD from the Central European University (CEU), Austria.

    Andrew G. Gosler is a Professor of Ethno-ornithology in the Department of Zoology and School of Anthropology at the University of Oxford, UK. He is the author/editor of multiple books, including Ethno-Ornithology: Birds, Indigenous Peoples, Culture and Society (Routledge, 2011).

    "Just in case you were thinking that religion is a thing of the past, I highly recommend that you read the rich collection of case studies in this eye-opening book. They make it abundantly clear that world religions are not only thriving, but they are also making a positive impact on safeguarding nature in the age of humans."

    Shonil A. Bhagwat, Professor of Environment and Development, Head of School, Social Sciences and Global Studies, The Open University, UK

    "This important volume of case studies from around the world provides an invaluable service by highlighting the key role that mainstream religions and Indigenous traditions have to play in protecting nature. Without the deep kind of support described in Religion and Nature Conservation: Global Case Studies, programs of environmental and cultural conservation will not succeed in being equitable, inclusive, and sustainable."

    Edwin Bernbaum, Co-Chair, IUCN Specialist Group on the Cultural and Spiritual Value of Protected Areas (CSVPA) and author of Sacred Mountains of the World, 2nd edition

    "This book is an invaluable contribution that illustrates the critical role of religions in the conservation movement. It documents remarkable examples from around the world that will inspire further engaged religious environmentalism. It is indeed a unique and indispensable monograph for the growing field of religion and ecology."

    Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale University, Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology