The Second Forum of the Quranic Botanical Garden of Doha, Qatar, gathered specialists in Islam and other faiths, ecologists, ecosystem managers, and scholars of other relevant disciplines to exchange ideas and experiences about future programs to serve the objectives of the Quranic Botanic Garden and the Commission on Ecosystem Management.
The sessions of the Forum (see full programme) discussed Islamic principles, values and ethics that promote the conservation of plants, cultural traditions and ecosystems. The contributions by the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management explored broader relationships between faith and spirituality and the natural environment, and how this relationship can provide a basis for conservation. Some sessions explored how links between traditional knowledge and ecosystem conservation, as well as the links between botanical gardens and ecosystem and landscape restoration. Finally, certain contributions focussed in the plants in the Quran and the goals of the Quranic Botanic Garden of Doha.
Two members of the Specialist Group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas participated in this event: Gonzalo Oviedo, IUCN senior advisor on social policy, and Josep-Maria Mallarach, member of the Steering Committee of Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas, and joint-coordinator of The Delos Initiative. Both made presentations and participated in the discussions.
Gonzalo Oviedo’s presentation on ‘Cultural and spiritual values, traditions and customs in conservation’, provided very clear ideas and concepts, giving, the social and political framework for many other presentations.
The presentation by Josep-Maria Mallarach’s was on: ‘Managing landscapes that are of spiritual significance for different faith groups’, provided a general overview on the topic from the mainstream faiths viewpoint, whit selected examples of current landscape management inspired by religious principles.
Close to the previous topic, and very much in tune, was the presentation of Edmund Barrow, Director Global Ecosystems management Programme, CEM, on ‘The importance of trees and groves for faith based groups and spiritual traditions across the globe’.
On of the most inspiring presentations from the region was that of Princess Basma bint Ali from Jordan, founder of the Royal Botanical Garden of Jordan, about the concept and strategic approaches of this institution, an outstanding project of putting Islamic principles -in their universal dimension- into practice.
Another remarkable presentation was that of Iyad Abumaghli, Director and Regional Representative of UNEP in West Asia, who made a very clear and compelling case for including Islamic principles into conservation and sustainable policies, with a number of recommendations.
It is anticipated that the proceedings of the Forum Islamic Perspectives on Ecosystem Management, including all the presentations and conclusions, will be published by Quranic Garden of Qatar and the CEM of IUCN this year.