A team of our Specialist Group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas orqanised a workshop on Cultural and Spiritual Significance of Nature in Protected Area Management and Governance during the World Park Congress of Sidney.
We got an enthusiastic participation of over one hundred people and great ideas for developing a network and training modules on promoting and integrating the cultural and spiritual significance of nature in protected area management and governance. We thought you might be interested in reading a summary of the contributions the participants of the workshop.
One of the main purposes for organising the workshop was to gather inputs for preparing training modules to integrate the diversity of meanings and values of nature into protected areas. We thought that some of you that did not get the chance to participate into the Sidney workshop do have experiences on such trainings and would be willing to share them.
The organisers of the workshop would therefore be very appreciative if you could share basic data on training modules, using THIS_FORM (to help you here is an EXAMPLE that Josep filled out based on his own experience in Spain). For those of you that have experience on trainings about the meaning and values of nature, it will take no more than 10 minutes to fill in this short form, and you can be reassured that this information would be extremely valuable for our project.
Anyways, the summary of the feedback collected during the workshop:
1. Why the training is needed ?
- Connection back people to the Mother / to “the Ground” / feel the whole universe – life changing moment (Humanity in general lost connection to Nature and spiritual values).
- To restore dignity with culture and spirituality.
- Re-educate government, policy-makers, PA managers, etc. to understand the culture they are trying to protect / understanding culture enriches lives.
- Strengthen identity /reconciliation between all people / return to country
- Cultures are being westernized > need to enforce proud + collective appreciation local cultures / knowledge sharing.
- Genuine giving back to land and collaboration by lovers of land so that others can “see” the connection.
- Holistic interpretation of nature emotional connection to land
- Greater public good is lacking. Intention behind actions is extremely essential.
- People are yearning for spirituality/worldview.
2. What is the main message?
- People and nature of the area are one / rediscovering the connection with place / with the Mother-Life-Giving / to Sacred in nature / Unity – People + Nature, we are the same.
- Breaking down barriers of difference / collaborating positively / building effective partnerships.
- Engaging the whole person / history of Place and People – including activities that exhale performance/experiential learning / sharing your own stories.
- Strong culture, strong country, strong community / cultural ways of knowing / understanding that culture is dynamic and not static – it is always evolving / integrate traditional knowledge when implementing PA management / gendered ways of interacting with place.
- A world in which people understand, respect and work for, and have access to clean air, clean water, and clean land, because those are the things that are keeping us alive / Respect native – land, people.
3. Who is the audience?
Involve all relevant stake holders. Several scenarios should be taken into consideration:
- In PAs with indigenous peoples, the audience may be two-fold: Indigenous Peoples (learning responsibilities and how to administer them) and managers (recognize; to appreciate and collaborate with indigenous peoples)
- In PAs without indigenous peoples, the audience may be more diverse: Policy makers and other key decision makers, teachers, faith leaders. PA staff, users, people who don’t care (provide something to make them understand that they should care), people who understand > to learn how to do interpretation.
- In general: those that are disconnected from Nature.
4. What is the main objective?
- See personal transformation manifest in policy
- Integrate spiritual significance into PA management / practicing Nature connections through religion – reconnect to nature through education / ethics and spirituality.
- Create an immersive and transformative experience in nature / Make people to experience, feel and value the significance of the area / create a connection.
- Shift minds and hearts (hot head + cold heart >> cool head + warm heart)
- To let anger go, healing, respecting/learning about the past and the pain.
- (Foster) dialogue and commitment by all stakeholders.
- Harnessing song lines so information can be passed down / capturing traditional knowledge from elders.
- Raising awareness through education – how to educate people. To feel & care for nature in a way that relates to evolves their values, attitudes and behaviors. To examine their values/ethics -reflexivity- “what drives my behavior?” (introspection/awareness) / evolve consciousness.
- Promote greater engagement (positive) and care with nature in PA and beyond them.
- Reclaiming personal and cultural power through awareness and engagement.
- Interconnectivity/ inter-being with nature’s economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the ecology.
- Connect with spiritual tradition (most religious teach sacrality of nature and therefore …)
- First awaken “trusteeship” in the faiths (this concept is largely lost in faiths, so first remind them of own role to care for nature), we need an attitude of “trusteeship” to spread in humanity. Next awaken awareness we are one human family with one planet.
- Empowerment through awareness and engagement -beyond despair into hope.
- Reconnect people and ecology so they understand they are connected not separate.
- Meet people (living in or around PAs) where they are and find commonalities.
- Manage (creative answers) to westernization and homogenization.
- Awareness of beliefs values attitudes, behaviors.
- Balance. Strong ethic to support life.
- Compare cultural values to reality (inspire people with their own culture)
- Communication strategies between all political, religions trustees of world story telling and remember connect with spiritual values.
- Spiritual leadership decision making.
5. What is the training going to look like?
General points: Learning by experience. Engage all senses / reveal (unexpected) linkages. Engage through immersive, experiential learning that combines “head & heart”. Workshops on country, under a tree, face to face. Teach trough feelings, stories, values, not just “facts”. Look for transformation points. Find practical applications. Ground it –not just theory but participatory action learning. Using nature as a way of healing. Journey into nature (women, young people). Absorbing energy from sacred sites, natural respect, stillness. Challenge the idea that “science has to justify our spirit”. Feelings workshop – meditation. Feeling a sense of ownership by local communities, feel motivated to talk, feel connected.
Four different options have been suggested:
A. One to three weeks in the bush,
- Dialogue – face the past/ understanding place/stories
- Ritual – some way to let anger go / Totems + responsibility
- Walking, sitting, journaling, meditation, drawing, poetry
- Learning about the rocks, plants, animals, native place
- “Eco-therapeutic” psychological psychodrama
B. Three days in the bush
- Bonding personal openness-connection / disconnected from technology
- “Visioning”> creative space, idealism welcome, challenge perspective
- Exchange between the target group and spiritual group /leaders / interfaith organisations,..
- in Nature
- Time for isolation / connecting / reflection / healing through historical legacies,…
- Knowledge sharing and allowing to feel through rituals, art,…
- Female and youth led
C. Two or three hours
D. Integrated Programs – undergraduate training of PA managers
6. What will be the title of the training ?
- Recovering our spiritual roots with the land / Connecting to Creation
- People and nature of the area are one.
- “Deep Country”: Immersion in Nature
- “We are here”
- We are not separate from nature!
(Note: make sure to use a local / traditional name when naming Protected Areas)
7. What actions could promote and implement the cultural and spiritual significance of nature ?
- Step 1: Check with the local community about such a training program.
- Bring nature + culture together: Narrative forms of spiritual significance – respecting rights for communities not to share. Inform participants of cultural significance / wider perspective of culture – local values – anyone can have culture/values / cultural theatre presented in contemporary way. Cultural exchange to ensure younger generations understand loss of cultures.
- Organize mandatory cultural/spiritual workshops.
- Recognizing different perspectives of regular terms / listening / bridge Natural + Social sciences with collaboration / welcome the perspective & connection of women / knowledge of place and history.
- Employ locals (co-management) / engage all families / good governance / base on locals
- Indigenous knowledge, recognition and understanding / recognize traditional gendered roles. Sacred pipe quarries / educational process of demonstration of pipe-making by traditional methods / awareness of Indigenous peoples and cultural practices.
- Let people experience, live the tradition, nature by all the senses. Experiences of nature should be authentic, communal, shared, with spiritual background & differing experiences.
- Interpretation. Diffusion of visitor-ship. Use of interpretative technologies: QR codes, WI-fi info…
- Relevant information to integrate traditional knowledge in tourism & PA management (where information on sacred sites have been lost, need to work with old people to identify sacred sites). Encourage more traditional healers and indigenous communities to reconnect with history and culture, to be advocates. PA managers to work across spiritual space, quiet zones.
- Acknowledge our role in the destruction of nature, get back in synchrony.
- (Develop) a range of approaches to reconnect rangers.
- Devolved power “seat at table”.
- Gender specific sites need extra governance.
- Using natural landscape for reconnection to self / Teaching on how the “self” relates to nature and humanity / Spiritual landscape – self respect
- Indigenous knowledge workshops on spiritual teachings that are appropriate to share
- Respect secrets – knowledge stories, places. Enforce restricted access. Educate visitors on how to behave / respect sacred areas.
- Cultural heritage strategy for PAs. Record sites, stories with different levels of access (to protect from loss of oral tradition) + protocols for cultural heritage “soundscapes” – using technology (e.g. for access + different ways of presenting information) / interpretative signs – plants: uses + significance + indigenous
- Sharing as a principle – how not to share and boundaries, best mediums to share.
- Bring urban youth (inner city) for extended time to PA / just “be there” – intensive immersion, experiences with local, indigenous people or country – for community leaders, for local people – to connect with place.
- Keep integrity around intellectual property/traditional knowledge – e.g. non-aboriginal people co-opting “bush medicine” + selling.
- Education, respect, signage. Relevant information to integrate traditional knowledge in tourism and PA management. Adequate) protection /enforcement – balance tourism access “spiritual lens”, e.g. Uluru.
- Recovering + documenting rituals / where information on sacred sites has been lost, work with old people to identify sacred sites. Listening + Training / Top down + Bottom Up
- Aichi Targets (18) Traditional Knowledge
8. How can a network be developed?
- Realistic expectations: Smart goals – “this is what we can do together”
- Establish an email list.
- Create a journal, newsletter, videos, documentaries, narratives, story telling,…
- International projects (workshops, training, capacity building, coordinated events, etc.) A process to share knowledge, ex. best practices. Tours to sacred sites.
- State based groups feed ING to CSVPA / annual national meetings- update / country/region specific groups.
- Active outreach of leaders to the members to involve them in activities / business, NGOs.
- Form more targeted focus groups / youth / commit to bringing young persons.
- Profiles of belief systems/faiths perspectives on nature.
- Use E-technology: LinkedIn specific group / chat rooms / Interactive website > “website-note”/ Video chats / social FR / twitter media / Skype / Instagram / interactive platform where every two weeks a member presents what relevance/function CSVs have in their work; people can then ask questions / Searchable data base of participants and interests / On line connection and learning / Peer to peer learning.
- Retreat-Summit on country (feeling rather than just learning)