Spiritual Ecology, Sacred Places, and Biodiversity Conservation

Authored by: Leslie E. Sponsel

Routledge Handbook of Environmental Anthropology

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  August  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138782877
eBook ISBN: 9781315768946
Adobe ISBN: 9781317667964


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Many cultures have survived and adapted successfully for centuries or even millennia (Anderson 2010, 2014; International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources 1997). Others have degraded their habitat and depleted the natural resources in it to the extent of undermining their economic and social viability (Sponsel 2012, 2013a). Among those that have proven to be sustainable, it can be hypothesized that spiritual ecology, and one of its manifestations through sacred places in nature, may be important in facilitating biodiversity conservation in many cases (cf. Grim 2001). Accumulating research from different scientific disciplines is progressively exploring and documenting the possibilities of connections between sacred places and biodiversity conservation around the world (Dudley et al. 2005; Lee and Wauchope 2003; Pungetti et al. 2012; Ramakrishnan et al. 1998; Schaaf and Lee 2006; Verschuuren et al. 2010). In such efforts, environmental anthropology has a strategic role to play in basic research, applied work, and advocacy (Orlove and Brush 1996, Sponsel 2007a).

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