Cultural and spiritual significance of nature: Guidance for protected and conserved area governance and management


The cultural and spiritual significance of nature has been defined as the spiritual, cultural, inspirational, aesthetic, historic and social meanings, values, feelings, ideas and associations that natural features and nature in general have for past, present and future generations of people – both individuals and groups. These guidelines respond to a growing need to make conservation more inclusive, effective and socially just by accommodating multiple worldviews; by treating natural and cultural heritage as interlinked; and by suggesting ways for engaging and empowering all relevant groups and stakeholders in protected area design, governance and management. The guidelines also assist with creating common ground, resolving conflicts and implementing rights-based approaches that recognise human rights and legal pluralism.

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Author Bas Verschuuren, Josep-Maria Mallarach, Edwin Bernbaum, Jeremy Spoon, Steve Brown, Radhika Borde, Jessica Brown, Mark Calamia, Nora Mitchell, Mark Infield, Emma Lee
Publisher IUCN
Publication year 2021
Language English

Themes: BiodiversityIndigenous PeoplesTraditional knowledge

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