The Incorporation of Spiritual and Sacred Sites In Enhancing the Management of Protected Areas

Hamzah, Amran (2012) The Incorporation of Spiritual and Sacred Sites In Enhancing the Management of Protected Areas. In: Conference On Urban Planning & Management in Malaysia, 8 November 2012, Renaissance Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. (Submitted)


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Protected areas (PAs) play an essential role in conserving natural habitats, species and genetic diversity. Ever since the 3rd. World Congress on National Parks held in Bali in 1982, the scope of protected area management has formally expanded to include the local community in the planning and management process. In essence, places that are considered sacred or having spiritual values to local communities could be regarded as ‘traditional’ protected areas. Local communities and indigenous people follow some kind of spiritual faith that often contributes to the protection of such places, which they inherited from their ancestors. However, many sacred areas are now under threat because the respect for such places has been diminishing. The emergence of ‘dysfunctional rural’ communities due to outmigration and the breakdown in traditional values have largely contributed to the neglect of sacred or spiritual places. In addition spiritual and faith values are rarely considered in the formal decision making process because of the lack of understanding of the role of traditional values in ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources. To improve the management of protected areas, Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) was formulated by IUCN. However, researchers have lately criticized the MEE as being Western-centric which does not consider the traditional values of the forest resources from the perspective of local and indigenous communities. For instance, the boundary of protected areas seldom recognizes the way of life of local or indigenous communities and areas they consider as sacred. This paper is based on a literature review to highlight case studies in which sacred spiritual places are incorporated into the mainstream planning of protected areas. It also highlights the use of techniques such a cultural mapping to foster a sense of ownership among the local or indigenous community which will subsequently facilitate ‘buy in’ and reduce non-compliance. Towards this end this paper offers suggestions on how concepts such as community forestry could assist policy makers and park managers in enhancing the effectiveness of the management of protected areas. Finally this paper reflects on the implications of new approaches in protected area management on the role and scope of land use and regional planning.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Management Effectiveness Evaluation, protected area management, sacred places, spiritual places, land use and resource planning
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Built Environment > Urban and Regional Planning
Depositing User: FAB IR Admin
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2013 06:03
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2013 06:03

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