IUCN Best Practice Guidelines:
Cultural and Spiritual Significance of Nature in Protected Area Management and Governance

Supported by: The World Commission on Protected Areas, The Sacred Natural Sites Initiative.
Hosted by: The Mountain Institute.
Contact: CSVPA Co-chairs; Edwin Bernbaum: ebernbaum@mounain.org  and Bas Verschuuren: basverschuuren@gmail.com
Support: The project is open to parties interested in collaborating and/or supporting the project in kind or financially. Currently WCPA and the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) are supporting the project.

In Development
  • CSVPA and the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) are organising two international workshops to further the work on the best practice guidelines in tandem with the development of training modules. The workshops will be helt at the International Academy for Nature Conservation at the Island of Vilm in Germany in July 2016.
  • Look broadly at management, governance, and conservation efforts to include the cultural and spiritual significance nature in protected areas and areas of land and sea managed by other effective means within the wider land and sea scape.
  • In addition to and building on CSVPA’s experience with sacred natural sites (see: IUCN UNESCO BPG 16), broadly cover the cultural, historic, social, spiritual, religious and aesthetic significance of nature but also material aspects of culture such as traditional use, food cultures, agri-cultures, aqua-cultures, arts, crafts and architecture and design that are related to nature.
  • Highlight and promote the role of the cultural and spiritual significance of nature in engaging followers of mainstream religions and members of the general public in supporting protected areas and areas of land and sea managed by other effective means as this will reach a wider audience and have wider appeal and impact making it easier to integrate these areas in the wider land and sea scape.
  • Help the protected areas incorporate cultural and spiritual perspectives and improve their relationships with all stakeholders, inclusive of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and garner additional, more sustainable support from the mainstream religions and general public.
  • Provide guidance that is cognizant of conservation experience within a framework of cultural and religious rights as well as of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and provide state of the art examples and case studies demonstrating how recognition and inclusion of the cultural and spiritual significance of nature can help improve protected areas management within the wider land and sea scape.
  • Apart from site level management, programme or division managers at governments, NGOs, private land owners, and Indigenous Peoples organisations, the guidelines will also be relevant to local communities as well as nomadic people, fisher folk and pastoralist people amongst other stake holders that manage and conserve land and sea by other effective means than recognised protected areas.
  • An editorial team and several authors will be assigned to the project to develop the Best Practice Guidelines (BPG) on the cultural and spiritual significance of nature for application in protected areas. They will be selected from amongst the CSVPA membership but we will certainly also scope interest from individuals willing to make a contributions from wider networks such as: UNESCO, ICOMOS, TILCEPA, CEESP Theme on Culture and Conservation, ICCA Consortium and others.
  • We build on and complement work already done with the existing BPG on sacred natural sites that the CSVPA has published. Several individuals in CSVPA hold extensive experience with drafting guidelines culture and spirituality for conservation purposes and we aim to bring this expertise into the publication. 

The production of the guidelines will take approximately two years and will commence in January 2016. The schedule could follow along these lines where each line is a month:

  1. Editorial Committee meeting: TOR for editors and key authors defined and agreed, draft outline or TOC for consultation ready, call for expressions of interest
  2. Case study authors and resource authors identified and allocated
  3. Development of the guidelines and case studies
  4. Draft contributions received – first round
  5. Finalization and consultation of the first draft
  6. Development of the guidelines and case studies
  7. Editorial committee meeting, finalization and consultation of the second draft
  8. Draft contributions received – second round
  9. Finalization and consultation of the second draft
  10. Finalization and consultation of the second draft
  11. Preparing the final draft publication,
  12. Printing and publicity.

On the way to Jabal La’lam – “He (God) The Preserver”, Morocco. Photo: Josep-Maria Mallarach.

World Parks Congress

A workshop at the WPC in Sydney in 2014 focussed on protected area management staff and conservation practitioners interested in the cultural and spiritual significance of nature who are positioned to introduce and implement these approaches in their protected areas. In July 2016 CSVPA and the German federal Ministry for Nature Conservation organise a dedicated one week workshop at the International Nature conservation Academy in Vilm Germany. In September 2016 CSVPA organises a workshop at the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii. These workshops will again be followed by a week long workshop in Vilm Germany in July 2017 which should lead to the completion of the guidelines.

Learn more about CSVPA’s work on IUCN Best Practice Guidelines