It is not often spirituality, science and ecology join forces but this has happened recently. According to The Times (July 30th 2011) scientist at Oxford are aiming to produce a map recording all the religious woodlands in the world.
The boffins have realized that ancient sacred woodlands which are often thought to be the abode of deities tend to be left undisturbed for many centuries, and as a result, they are treasure chests of bio-diversity. Indeed, the forests that will appear on the map protect some of the highest concentrations of threatened species in the world.
Furthermore, The Alliance of Religions and Conservation estimate that between 8 and 15% of the world‘s land is considered sacred or religious. Yet, despite their value many of these forests are bereft of recognized legal protection and survive solely due to the influence of local elders and spiritual leaders.
Unfortunately, in the UK most natural religious sites were destroyed when Christianity became a major faith and churches were built on the sacred groves. India, on the other hand, still has many holy woodlands.
In one district of Kodagu which is about the size of the county of Oxfordshire in the UK there are about 1,200 sacred groves. In Karnataka in Southern India certain grooves contain trees that are so rare they are not found in the most heavily protected areas.
Of course it is not just Hinduism that is contributing to saving species; Dr. Bhagwat and Professor Willis of the biodiversity unit at the Oxford Martin School are also in contact with managers of Shinto shrines in Japan and with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church which owns 300 fragments of tropical forests containing rare insects. Dr. Bhagwat commented;
‘We know so little about these sacred sites and how they should be managed and what biodiversity they hold.’
It certainly sounds to me, that as we become more and more aware of the loss of all sorts of natural goodies on the planet, that more action needs to be taken to support, sites of ancient, historical, religious of spiritual importance. What do you think? Please wrote and let me know.
Finally, I would like to flag up my new section on the Planets. Each has a very unique characteristic, and if you are fairly new to astrology and awareness to these, may prove enlightening….