Linking Biocultural Diversity and Sacred Sites: Evidence and Recommendations in the European Framework

Fabrizio Frascaroli, B. Verschuuren

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


There is growing recognition that sacred natural sites (SNS) form
hotspots of biocultural diversity and significantly contribute to conservation in
traditional non-western societies. Using empirical evidence from SNS in Central
Italy, we illustrate how a similar link between spiritual, cultural, and biological
values can be fundamental also in relatively secular and modernized European
contexts. We show that SNS are key to sustaining traditional practices and local
identities, and represent important instances of biodiversity-rich cultural landscapes.
Based on other case studies from across Europe, we suggest that these conclusions
can be relevant also at a broader European scale. Greater awareness from planners
and policy-makers, however, is needed to safeguard and emphasize the role of
European sacred sites as refugia for biocultural diversity. We review policy
guidelines on SNS previously developed by International Union for the
Conservation for Nature (IUCN) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and aimed at protected area managers and
planners. We assess the applicability of these guidelines in European contexts, and
complement them with findings and insight from Central Italy. We provide recommendations
for guidelines that are suited to SNS related to mainstream faiths in
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiocultural Diversity in Europe
EditorsMauro Agnoletti, Francesca Emanueli
ISBN (Electronic)9783319263151
ISBN (Print)9783319263137
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameEnvironmental History
ISSN (Print)2211-9019
ISSN (Electronic)2211-9027

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