Impacts of Global and National Policy on the Management and Conservation of Sacred Groves of India
Ormsby, Alison A.
India is home to thousands of community-protected forests, called sacred groves. Sacred forests or groves are sites that have cultural or spiritual significance to the people who live around them. These areas may also be key reservoirs of biodiversity. In India, most sacred groves are managed by a community group, not by a government agency. They are often private or community land, not formal protected areas or parks. This poses an interesting challenge in terms of future management and possible policy relating to the sacred groves. On the international level, organizations such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and UNESCO have created guidelines for management of sacred sites. On the national level, India’s past Forest Acts and recent Forest Rights Act have relevance to the sacred groves. Local differences in land tenure also affect the groves. Ethnographic research conducted in 2009 and 2010 in the states of Meghalaya and Karnataka, India, evaluated the historic and current management and beliefs associated with sacred forests. Cultural change and pressure to use natural resources within the groves is leading to reduction of these forest areas. In the future, a creative combination of policy approaches to conserve groves that respects their spiritual values is recommended.Show more [+] Less [-]