August 2016

Editorial:  Welcome to Our New Format Newsletter!

After fusing with the Sacred Natural Sites Initiative (SNSI), SSiReN has a new look and scope!

The newsletter's layout has been updated to match more closely the look and feel of SNSI's website, while its focus is going to give more attention to on-the-ground conservation and policy advocacy, besides research.
As usual, relevant contributions from all academic disciplines, practitioners, custodians and other institutions, are warmly welcomed for future newsletters.

For information and submissions, please email the editors Fabrizio Frascaroli, Alison Ormsby, Emma Shepheard-Walwyn, and Bas Verschuuren at

We hope that you will enjoy this new course of SSiReN, and will be looking forward to your feedback and continued support!

Fabrizio, Alison, Emma, and Bas

Featured Article: Sacred Natural Sites at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii 1-4 September 2016

Since sacred natural sites hit the conservation agenda in the late 1990‘s, they have been receiving increasing attention from conservationists. In 2008 at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, the launch of the IUCN UNESCO Best Practice Guidelines “Sacred Natural Sites: Guidelines for Protected Area Managers” marked a sea change in terms of their recognition.

Next month in Hawaii, conservationists of all sorts and from all over the globe will meet again for the 6th World Conservation Congress. Sacred Natural Sites will again be on the agenda and native Hawaiians and park staff will be there to represent the work that they have been doing on sacred natural sites and protected areas. These are some of the foremost events:

  • Book Launch: Asian Sacred Natural Sites: Philosophy and Practice in Protected Areas and Conservation. A co-publication of Sacred Natural Sites Initiative and Biodiversity Network Japan. Saturday the 3rd of September, 13:15 – 14:15, Room 318A.
  • Session: From Rhetoric to Reality: exploring laws, customary governance and no-go area policies for the protection of sacred natural sites. Sunday the 4th of September, 11:00 – 13:00, Room 315
  • Poster: Sacred Natural Sites in Brazil: A Collaborative Research. Saturday 3rd of September

Other important sessions on cultural and spiritual significance of nature that will surely build on work involving sacred natural sites are those organised by the IUCN Specialist group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas:

Still looking for more ways to engage with sacred natural sites? See how they play a role in some of the thematic journey that have been organised to help lead people with a specific interest through the congress. Try the journey on conservation and spirituality with a high level segment involving representatives of the world's main religions or the “Nature Culture” Journey that will advance effective conservation practice through integration of nature and culture.

See this article online

Recent News

Indigenous custodians’ voices amplified in forthcoming publication
An International photography contest invites you to photograph sacred natural sites

Events & Opportunities

IUCN World Conservation Congress, Hawaii, USA, 1-10 September

Sacred Sites, Cultural Landscapes, and Harmonising the World of Asia.  Lampang Rajabhat University, Thailand, 2-5 December 2016

Case Studies

The gawbaka governance of Kakku and conservation strategies: fluid versus static spirituality, Myanmar
An ancient monument to the sea turtle at Ras Al Hadd Nature Reserve, Oman
Conserving natural and intangible heritage at the Shrine of the Santissima Trinità of Vallepietra, Central Italy
Opportunity for collaboration at the world’s ‘Third Eye’, Lake Issyk Kul


Aerts, R., Van Overtveld, K., November, E., et al.  (2016). Conservation of the Ethiopian church forests: Threats, opportunities and implications for their management.  Science of the Total Environment.  Volume 551:  404-414.
Park, S.  (2016).  A Geographical Study on the Spiritual Therapeutic Landscape: From a Perspective of Catholic Sacred Places in Korea.  Journal of the Korean Geographical Society.  51(1): 143-166   
Drule, A.M., Bacila, M.F., Ciornea, R., et al. (2015).  Segmenting visitors encountered at sacred sites based on travelling motivations and constraints.  Current Science.  109(2): 268-273.   
Frascaroli F. and Verschuuren B. (2016) Linking biocultural diversity and sacred sites: evidence and recommendations in the European framework, in: M. Agnoletti and F. Emanueli (eds), Biocoltural Diversity in Europe, Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp. 389–417.

Frascaroli F., Bhagwat S., Guarino R., Chiarucci A. and Schmid B. (2016) Shrines in Central Italy conserve plant diversity and large trees, Ambio 45(4): 468–479.
Ormsby, A.A. and S.A. Ismail. (2015). Cultural and ecological insights into sacred groves: managing timber resources for improved grove conservation.  Forests, Trees and Livelihoods 24(4):  244-258.  DOI:  10.1080/14728028.2015.1059294
Reisland, M.A., Lambert, J.E.  (2016).  Sympatric Apes in Sacred Forests: Shared Space and Habitat Use by Humans and Endangered Javan Gibbons (Hylobates moloch). PLOS ONE   11(1).     Article Number: e0146891   
Shen, X., Li, S., Wang, D., et al.  (2015).  Viable contribution of Tibetan sacred mountains in southwestern China to forest conservation.  Conservation Biology.   29(6): 1518-1526.   
Siwila, L.C. (2015).  An encroachment of ecological sacred sites and its threat to the interconnectedness ofsacred rituals: A case study of the Tonga people in the Gwembe valley.  Journal for the Study of Religion. 28(2): 138-153.
Uddin, K., Chaudhary, S., Chettri, N., et al.  (2015).  The changing land cover and fragmenting forest on the Roof of the World: A case study in Nepal's Kailash Sacred Landscape.  Landscape and Urban Planning 141: 1-10.

Verschuuren, B., & Furuta, N. (eds) (2016). Asian sacred natural sites: Philosophy and practice in protected areas and conservation. London: Routledge. p.344. 

The Sacred Site Research Newsletter (SSiReN) was conceived at the symposium Conserving nature at sacred sites held at the University of Zurich in October 2011, as a means to inform and aggregate the community of researchers working on sacred natural sites. In 2016 the newsletter fused withthe  Sacred Natural Sites Initiative (SNSI), and its focus broadened from research to also include on-the-ground conservation and policy advocacy. It is aimed at scholars, practitioners, custodians, traditional knowledge holders, and policy makers in support of the conservation and revitalization of sacred natural sites and territories. Everyone is warmly encouraged to submit news, events, opportunities, and relevant publications, or to introduce their work in a feature article.
SSiReN is an acronym from the title Sacred Sites Research Newsletter. As a creature, a Siren is also a symbol of the connection between beliefs, culture and nature, which is characteristic of sacred natural sites.

SSiReN is issued twice a year. Past issues can be found in the library of the SNSI's website. For information and submissions, please email the editors Fabrizio Frascaroli, Alison Ormsby, Emma Shepheard-Walwyn, and Bas Verschuuren at

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