Engaging Religion to Protect Nature
BY: STAFF CORRESPONDENT
Feb 20, SWITZERLAND (HPI) The World Wide Fund for Nature has released a new book, "Beyond Belief - Linking faiths and protected areas for biodiversity conservation." The entire book is available here in PDF form for download.
The organization's website describes the book in this way: "Most people in the world follow some kind of spiritual faith, and faiths have enormous impacts on the way that we think and behave, including how we relate to the natural world. This reports looks at how faiths interact with one of the main tools of conservation - protected areas. These links come in two major forms:
1) Sacred places - both sacred natural sites and built environments existing in natural or semi-natural areas. These can contribute very directly to global conservation efforts because they are often themselves well-conserved, through traditions that sometimes stretch back for thousands of years;
2) Influence of faiths - through their philosophy, actions and influence, faiths can have a major impact on the way their followers view the protection of nature.
Links between faiths and conservation of land and water exist throughout the world and involve every faith system that we have examined. Faiths have been involved in some of the earliest forms of habitat protection in existence, both through the preservation of particular places as sacred natural sites and through religious-based control systems such as the himas system in Islam.
Sacred areas are probably the oldest form of habitat protection on the planet and still form a la rge and mainly unrecognised network of sanctuaries around the world. A proportion of these sites (probably a large proportion) are also highly successful at conserving natural ecology and biodiversity.