Cultural & Spiritual Nature Programme

Recognition and Promotion of the Cultural and Spiritual Significance of Nature in the Management and Governance of Protected Areas

Hosted by: The Mountain Institute.
Contact: CSVPA Co-chairs; Edwin Bernbaum:  and Bas Verschuuren:
Support: The project is open to parties interested in collaborating and/or supporting the project in kind or financially. Currently The Christensen Fund, The World Commission on Protected Areas and the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) are supporting the project.

GuidelinesTraining ModulesCase StudiesBookNetworkInformation Sheet

The Cultural & Spiritual Nature Programme programme develops the promotion and integration of the cultural and spiritual significance of nature in protected area management and governance. It brings together all stakeholders that manage and govern protected areas – including protected area managers, representatives of indigenous traditions, mainstream religions, and environmental organisations representing the general public – to focus on developing training modules in tandem with best practice guidelines. The strength of this approach lies in the synergies between development and testing of both products.

We take a broad approach and consider what different natural features, as well as the wider landscape and seascape mean to people of different cultures and societies, from traditional to modern. This encompasses aesthetic, artistic, linguistic, scientific, historical, ethological, therapeutic, recreational, wellbeing, religious and spiritual aspects and even overall conceptions of nature.

The outputs of improved training modules and the IUCN best practice guidelines will be the first of their kind. They have the potential to reach a very broad and diverse range of people and a large number of different kinds of protected areas. This can have significant impacts by making management and governance of protected areas more sustainable, inclusive, and equitable, especially for the next generation.

This programme has five core activities aimed at the development and implementation of:

  1. IUCN Best Practice Guidelines on Cultural and Spiritual Significance of Nature in Protected Areas Management and Governance.
  2. Training modules designed to function as stand alone modules on the cultural and spiritual values of protected areas as well as to fit into larger and more general training programs and workshops that people attend for other reasons.
  3. Case studies, practical examples and experiences of organisations from around the world provide overview and reference to the other programme components.
  4. A peer reviewed book will cover explorations of the conceptual, philosophical and theoretical underpinnings as well as practical case studies.
  5. A network of people that are interested in learning from each other and in supporting the development of the Best Practice Guidelines, the training modules and this website that functions as an online platform for this work.
The five elements of the IUCN CSVPA Cultural and Spiritual Significance of Nature Programme.

The five elements of the IUCN CSVPA Cultural and Spiritual Significance of Nature Programme.

Download the Information Sheet (PDF)

Download the information sheet for the Cultural and Spiritual Significance of Nature Programme or contact us if you would like to learn more about how you can contribute to this work.

CSVPA and its partners continuously develop the work under this programme and much of it gets done at international meetings and workshops were the work is also presented and disseminated with a broader audience. After initial workshops at the World Parks Congress in Sydney Australia in 2014, more work is planned in 2016 and 2017. In June 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.