Who we are
Dr. Edwin Bernbaum
I have been a co-chair since 2012, before I directed a program at The Mountain Institute working with various US National Parks, including Yosemite, Great Smoky Mountains, and Hawai’i Volcanoes, developing interpretive materials based on the evocative cultural and spiritual associations of natural features in cultures around the world. I have also been working with ICIMOD on developing a roadmap for nominating the Kailash Sacred Landscape as a trans-boundary World Heritage Site. I have written articles for various UNESCO publications on sacred mountains around the world as World Heritage Sites, based in part on my book Sacred Mountains of the World.
I have been a co-chair since 2006. I do applied research and develop biocultural conservation approaches to management and policy in World Heritage sites and protected areas, usually in the context of the wider land and seascape. I co-founded the Sacred Natural Sites Initiative and I currently work as a free lance advisor and affiliate researcher and lecturer with the department of Sociology and Anthropology of Change at Wageningen University. I published over 40 (academic) articles, technical reports and books and I am lead-editor of the books: “Sacred Natural sites, Conserving Nature and Culture” and “Community Well Being in Biocultural Landscapes”.
Dr. Josep-Maria Mallarach
Josep-Maria works as an independent consultant for public agencies and private organisations at the local national and international level. His fields of expertise includes protected areas planning, management and evaluation, landscape, connectivity and strategic impact assessment. The topic of his PhD thesis is “Improving the effectiveness of protected natural areas: identification, recognition and integration of cultural and spiritual values in protected areas in Europe”. He is frequently lectures and teaches at several universities in Spain.
Dr. Will Tuladhar-Douglas
Will grew up in the California chaparral but has spent most of his life studying, living in, or wish he were back in the Himalayas. His research combines ethnobiology and anthropology of religions to study biocultural diversity, sacred sites, Buddhist ethics, indigenous medical ecology, and other interesting questions that confound the boundary between the social and the natural. He is a senior lecturer in environments and religions at the University of Aberdeen and also their Buddhist chaplain.
Dr. Fabrizio Frascaroli
Fabrizio is a conservation ecologist and activist working across various fields and disciplines. He has extensively researched sacred natural sites and popular devotions in western and ‘mainstream-faith’ contexts, especially Central Italy, using methods from both the social and natural sciences. Fabrizio currently works as an independent advisor, and is a research associate at the Universities of Zurich and Bologna. He regularly collaborates with international groups and NGOs to promote biocultural and faith-based approaches to conservation.
Dr Radhika Borde is a Lecturer at the School of Geography, University of Leeds, UK where I teach and research on sustainability and social justice. My interest in sacred geographies stems from a long-term interest in Indigenous social movements centered on sacred natural sites in India, on which I have authored several publications. I was lucky enough to grow up in a place that has been an epicenter of Indigenous social movements in India which have attempted a reimagining of mainstream development paradigms. I have been involved with the editing of the volume titled “Religion and Nature Conservation: Global Case Studies” as well as the IUCN best practice guidelines titled “Cultural and Spiritual Significance of Nature in Protected Area Management and Governance”.
Minoo H. Esfehani
Minoo, grew up in Iran, with a deep passion for old cultures, history and mountains. As a trans-disciplinary tourism researcher, she focuses on ecotourism, the interaction between culture and nature and natural protected areas. As a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Otago, in New Zealand, Minoo is concluding her research project on ‘The role of intangible cultural heritage in tourism in natural protected areas’. She explored the role of oral tradition and also spiritual values in Islam and Zoroastrianism in conserving natural resources in protected areas and promoting more responsible natural-based tourism. In addition to lecturing, she has been part of research projects addressing ecotourism development in ‘geoparks’, and training local communities in protecting natural and cultural resources.
Rianne C. ten Veen
Ms Rianne C. ten Veen LLM MA MSc PGDip is a humanitarian aid worker with research and environment specialisms. She works with Osman Consulting Ltd as Head of Research and as an Associate Lecturer at The Open University teaching on interdisciplinary modules around environment, ethics and development. Besides work, she focuses on faith/environment/development projects and is a member of the management team of Islamic Foundation for Ecology & Environment Sciences (IFEES), the IUCN Specialist Group on Religion, Spirituality, Nature Conservation & Climate Justice, plus CSVPA. In 2009, she self-published “199 Ways to please God” a ‘save cash & planet’ style book from Islamic perspective.
Jonathan Liljeblad is a lecturer at Law School of the University of New England in New South Wales, Australia. He received his PhD and JD from the University of Southern California. He was born in Shan State, Myanmar under the name Nanda Zaw Win, but grew up in Sweden and the United States. His research is on human rights and environmental issues, particularly in relation to indigenous peoples. His current field work is in Southeast Asia, with much of his focus on Myanmar. He is involved with the World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL) as well as the CSVPA.
Support to media and membership
Jason Brown is a US-American PhD Candidate with the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES) at the University of British Columbia. With a background in anthropology, Jason studied Religion and Ecology with Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim earning dual Master’s Degrees in forestry and theology. Jason’s dissertation work focuses on the discourse, phenomenology and management of Christian monastic landscapes in the North American West. Jason is also the Co-founder of the Salish Sea Spiritual Ecology Alliance (SSSEA) which has executed two annual interdisciplinary ‘Convergences’ that explore spiritual practice, art, activism and theory surrounding the Salish Sea Bioregion.
Fiona grew up with a passion for the sea and big storms on the beautiful coast of Cornwall, UK, and moved to South America in the early 1990s. For nearly 30 years she has been working with The Gaia Foundation and its global network of partners, for the revival and protection of healthy oceans and forests, bio-cultural diversity, indigenous knowledge and sacred natural sites. She has an MSc in Protected Landscape Management, is an Executive Board member of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, expert member of the UN Harmony with Nature Knowledge Network, and Advisor to 1EarthInstitute – and currently lives in Uruguay.
Pau is an environmentalist specialized on cultural and spiritual values. He loves mountains landscapes and societies and lives in a little village in the middle of the Catalan Pyrenees. His MSc. projects were centered on Traditional Ecological Knowledge related to pastoralism, although his interests also comprehends a wide range of governance systems and spiritual dimensions of Nature. He has participated in different studies about intangible heritage, on protected areas with conservationists. Since 2016, he is coordinating the CSVPA – Young Professionals Working Group, integrating of new generations of professionals with new ideas into the ongoing work of CSVPA. Contact Pau if you are under 34 years of age and would like to join the team.
Thymio dedicated 30 years to the conservation of the natural and cultural heritage who holds an Honorary Doctorate from Athens Agricultural University. He co-founded WWF Greece and served as its president for several terms as well as being a board member of WWF International. Thymio is joint coordinator of the IUCN Delos Initiative and Senior Advisor on the Culture and Wetlands Network of the Ramsar Convention. He has been deeply involved with the ecological work of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and has written more than 400 articles, book chapters and books.
Robert Wild is a nature conservation practitioner with over 25 years of experience of working with communities at protected areas in Africa, Caribbean, Asia and Europe. His work has focused on supporting community-based conservation, governance and livelihoods at protected areas. He was the chair of the IUCN Specialist Group on the Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas from 2007-2012. Rob has a BSc in Ecology and an integrated social and natural science Master of Philosophy (University of Cape Town) in Botany. Robert is also a coordinator for the Sacred Natural Sites Initiative and currently works as a Technical Coordinator on IUCN’s People & Landscapes Programme from its’ Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office.
Vita de Waal
A cultural environmentalist, Vita is the founder and Director of the Foundation for Gaia, a NGO that since its inception is motivated by global perspectives in which people, society, culture, spirituality and nature are given full recognition as part of a larger evolving and interconnected whole. GAIA works for the inclusion of these values at international fora such as the United Nations where Vita is President of the NGO Working Group on Cultural Heritage & Sacred Sites, of the NGO Forum on Spirituality and Values, and of the NGO Forum on Environment.