Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The Religious Forest Sites map

Some hopeful resources may be emerging from the academic world: The Biodiversity Institute at Oxford University is working in partnership with the Alliance of Religions and Conservation and the World Database on Sacred Natural Sites to create something called the The Religious Forest Sites map.

The lead professor from Oxford Sonil Bhagwat has said: "Where data is available about the boundaries of these forests, it will hopefully give the local communities an instrument to help argue that these are the sites that they have traditionally been protecting for a long time. They are sites which have lasted through several generations."

Nothing is on the map yet about Animist forests (other than the Shinto) so there seems to be a lot to do to get this map up-to-date.

Alliance of Religions and Conservation is attempting to start crowdsourcing information about more sacred forests areas: http://www.arcworld.org/projects.asp?projectID=557

Oxford is also accepting notes and information http://www.biodiversity.ox.ac.uk/researchthemes/biodiversity-beyond-protected-areas/religious-forest-sites/

Here is a poem from Wendell Berry entitled 'How to be a Poet (to remind myself)' about the sacredness of forests and of the human-nature relationship.

Make a place to sit down. 
Sit down. Be quiet. 
You must depend upon 
affection, reading, knowledge, 
skill-more of each 
than you have-inspiration 
work, growing older, patience, 
for patience joins time 
to eternity… 

Breathe with unconditional breath 
the unconditioned air. 
Shun electric wire. 
Communicate slowly. Live 
a three-dimensional life; 
stay away from screens. 
Stay away from anything 
that obscures the place it is in. 
There are so unsacred places; 
there are only sacred places 
and desecrated places. 

Accept what comes from silence. 
Make the best you can of it. 
Of the little words that come 
out of the silence, like prayers 
prayed back to the one who prays, 
make a poem that does not disturb 
the silence from which it came.

― Wendell Berry
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