Of the nearly 7,000 known species of plants, animals and fungi found on Earth, some can be found in just one place: remote, uncharted forests that stretch across the planet. These areas are home to not only rare species, but also many that are under threat from deforestation and other human activities. Sacred forests, also called sacred groves or groves of jewels, are stands of old-growth trees that are revered for their spiritual properties. Ancient people used these forests to mark boundaries, create sacred spaces and connect with their ancestors. Today, many people in the West associate sacred forests with Asian cultures, although they do exist in many parts of the world. Here’s what you need to know about sacred forests and their importance in our natural world.
What is a sacred forest?
A sacred forest is a stand of old-growth trees that is revered for its spiritual properties. Ancient people used these forests to mark boundaries, create sacred spaces and connect with their ancestors.
Sacred forests and climate change
It’s difficult to draw a line between what constitutes a sacred forest and what is not. However, most sacred forests are home to rare or endangered species of plants and animals. Sacred forests often occur in the most remote parts of the world – places where traditional cultural practices still exist. The forests provide refuge for many species that would be threatened by climate change, habitat destruction and deforestation. In fact, research shows that sacred forests are important for biodiversity conservation efforts worldwide. In addition, sacred forests provide spiritual value for people in many cultures who lack other opportunities for connection with nature. For example, some indigenous people in North America use sacred groves as hunting grounds and places to conduct rituals.
Sacred forests and wildlife conservation
Sacred forests may not be protected by the same laws that protect other types of natural areas, but they are still important for wildlife conservation. The area surrounding a sacred forest is often home to rare and endangered species. For example, tigers and rhinos have been known to live in old-growth sacred forests in India. Native people also use these forests as hunting grounds. As they hunt, they kill the animals they need to survive but leave the animals with spiritual value alone. The practices also help preserve biodiversity, because it’s harder for an animal population to increase when there are fewer predators around. This helps maintain balance in nature and allows rare species, like tigers, rhinos and elephants, to continue living in their natural habitats.
Sacred forests and indigenous people
The world’s first sacred forest is said to have existed in the Americas, and it was revered by both Europeans and indigenous people. Sacred forests are also found in Africa, India, Australia, the Pacific and throughout Europe. Sacred forests provide important ecosystem services as well as spiritual meaning for many peoples across the globe.
Why protect sacred forests?
When you protect the sacred forests of the world, you protect them for future generations to come. There is a growing awareness of the importance of natural conservation among people around the world. This is because we are beginning to realize that our Earth has finite resources and only so much space left to accommodate new species. Protecting other living things helps us preserve our planet’s biodiversity and helps us better understand how humans fit into this natural system. Sacred forests also play an important role in various spiritual practices, such as shamanic healing practices, rituals that seek spiritual guidance from animals, or meditation involving trees.
Sacred forests: Where to visit
Some people believe that the best time to visit a sacred forest is at night when the trees are lit up by stars. The stench of rotting logs creates a sense of reverence in visitors. In addition to being beautiful, sacred forests can also be used for medicinal purposes and as homes for rare species. In North America, some very remote places with old-growth forests include: •California’s Redwood National Park •Oregon’s Mount Hood Wilderness •Washington State’s Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument #1: Sacred Forests Protect Unique Species Sacred forests protect many endangered plant and animal species from extinction. For example, scientists named the southern white rhinoceros after the sacred forests of Kruger National Park in South Africa because it is one of few populations in the world and its numbers have dwindled severely due to poaching and habitat destruction. Other animals protected by these forests include the golden lion tamarin, jaguarundi, and three-toed sloth.
Sacred forests: How to protect them
Approximately one-third of all intact forests still exist in Asia. These areas are often referred to as sacred forests, and they are home to many endangered species. As a result, these forests are particularly important for natural conservation efforts. By creating sanctuaries and preserving these forest areas, we can continue to protect them from deforestation and other human activities that threaten their survival.