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  1. THE DELOS INITIATIVE IUCN / WCPA Task Force on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Natural Protected Areas Thymio Papayannis & Josep Maria Mallarach

  2. BASIC CONCEPT The designation, planning and management of current protected area systems in technologically developed and transitional countries is usually based on approaches that only take into consideration a limited number of the multiple dimensions that can link people and nature.  The general attitude in technologically developed countries with respect to natural protected areas is determined by the prevalent positivistic and materialistic outlook of modern science, which has caused a weakening, or even a loss, of the spiritual dimension of nature, as well as other deeply rooted cultural connections related to the intangible values of natural areas.

  3. BACKGROUND 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage 2003 – World Park Congress of Durban – Action Plan Since 2003, within the IUCN / WCPA, a Task Force on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas (CSVPA) is active at the interface of human beings and nature. Within this Task Force, The Delos Initiative started in 2004 to study the contemporary pertinence of sacred natural sites in the technologically developed parts of the world and its effects on natural heritage conservation.

  4. Key challenge the project addresses GENERAL PURPOSE How can spiritual and cultural values contribute to the conservation and wise use of significant natural areas in the technologically developed world? The Delos Initiative aims to determine whether the spiritual and cultural values of a sacred site are compatible with its natural values and whether, and under which conditions, conservation efforts can create positive results for both.

  5. OBJECTIVES Understand the position ofmainstream religions andprimal spiritual traditions in developed countries on nature and on the sanctity of natural sites. Assess the pertinence and importance of sacred natural sites forcontemporary people and estimate the significance of their spiritual and cultural values. Study how these spiritual and cultural values can be maintained and enhanced and whether and how these values can be used for the conservation of sites. Attempt to resolve eventual conflicts between the spiritual character and uses of sacred sites and conservation requirements, establishing instead synergies, where possible.

  6. METHODOLOGY • 1)Bottom-up approach, based on the analysis of specific sites: • Identify participants and sites in representative countries. • Examine the objectives at the local level. • Debate results of analysis with different stakeholders to reach common conclusions. • Generalise results and extrapolate them to a broader level. • 2)Top-down approach, applying the basic metaphysical principles that all spiritual and religious traditions share: • Identify underlying principles of different spiritual traditions. • Examine their pertinence and influence on different contexts. • Propose and validate relationships and analogies. .

  7. What will be achieved • Increase understanding and support of protected areas by the local population by taking into consideration the connection to the land and deep-rooted traditions, such as pilgrimages. • Increase social support by the inclusion of wider social considerations, often marginalized by technocratic approaches. • Recognition and protection for the qualitative values of nature, such as beauty, grandeur, loneliness, harmony, which are immediate and universal. • Establishment of synergies between the spiritual character and uses of sacred sites and conservation requirements, where possible. • Development of a new tool to attempt to resolve eventual conflicts between apparently competing values.

  8. ACTION PLAN Establishment of a representative working group Pilot Plan Debate on scope and key issues Selection of case studies in different world regions Development and analysis of case studies Intranet debates followed by a participatory workshop Conclusions Proposals to IUCN, UNESCO, etc. Publication and [findings] dissemination of results

  9. Who is the target audience? Planners and managers of protected areas with significant spiritual and cultural values Responsible agencies and private organizations in charge of protected natural areas Traditional custodians of sacred naturals sites Spiritual, religious and cultural organizations, responsible or influential in sacred natural sites People concerned about the limitations of the prevalent technocratic and materialistic approach on protected area planning and management

  10. What makes The Delos Initiative different The Delos Initiative is the only working group issued from the IUCN / WCPA focusing on sacred natural sites in technologically developed countries. Using a participatory, professional and multi-faith approach it addresses a key challenge: • Finding positive synergies between the conservation of spiritual heritage and natural heritage in significant protected areas of the technologically developed world

  11. Why Delos? This Aegean island, with considerable marine interest, was in classical times considered sacred, dedicated to Apollo (the god of light) and the centre of a long lasting alliance. In ancient Greek Delos means clear, brought to light CONTACTS Thymio Papayannis Director Med-INA Josep M. Mallarach Director Silene Association Co-ordination Web site

  12. PILOT PLAN CASE STUDIES Mount Athos Athos peninsula, Greece Solovetsky Islands WhiteSea, RussianFederation Ukonvuori Lapland, Finland Meteora Thessaly, Greece Aijii / Ukonsaari Lapland, Finland Monti Sibillini Marche e Umbria, Italy Holy Island Arran Scotland, United Kingdom Appalachian Mts Kentucky, USA Foreste Casentinesi Romagna-Toscana, Italy Doñana – El Rocío Andalusia, Spain Averbury England, United Kingdom Montserrat Catalonia, Spain


  14. PILOT PLAN 1. Site selection Select a sample of significant spiritual and natural significance, including diversity of mainstream religions or primal spiritual traditions. Choose familiar sacred sites that have been established as natural protected areas. Aim at sites that have a strong contemporaryreligious / spiritual importance, as well as those that represent past beliefs and maintain only heritage values. Give priority to sites that have people interested in the compatibility of spiritual and natural heritage. .

  15. PILOT PLAN 2. Site analysis Carry out an initial bibliographic survey of each pilot site to assess: - Spiritual and cultural heritage - Natural heritage - Development pressures - Conservation perspectives and sustainability. Questionnaire for each of these sites, to gather further information on the different perceptions and opinions of major stakeholders. It will be filled by the responsible member of the Delos Working Group, on the basis of interviews and the analysis of documentation. Divergent views will be carefully recorded and reported.

  16. PILOT PLAN 2. Comparison, diagnosis and conclusions Analyse the results of the questionnaires in order to: - Identify and assess similarities and specificities for diagnoses and recommendations. - Develop a methodological approach to be used in a larger number of sites and in a broader geographic context Communicate and debate the results with key stakeholders in every site to reach consensus on the recommendations and proposals

  17. PILOT PLAN 3. First Workshop of The Delos Initiative Place: Monastery of Montserrat, Catalonia, Spain Dates: 23-26 November 2006 Participants: 23 from 10 countries + observers Collaborators: Monastery of Montserrat, UICN, Med-INA (Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos) [and Nature], Association Silene, The Mountains Institute, Meetsallius Finlad, Junta de Andalucía Sponsors: Board of the Mountain of Montserrat, Department for the Environment and Housing of Catalonia & Fundació Territori i Paisatge Expected publications: Spring 2007

  18. PILOT PLAN 4. Expected outputs & outcomes Better understanding of the relationship between spiritual / cultural and natural values An integrated view of a sample of representative sacred natural sites located in PA found in technologically developed countries Steps towards the management and conservation of protected areas that include important natural and spiritual / cultural heritage Establishment of a network of experts with common concerns Provision of inputs to the IUCN / WCPA Guidelines on Sacred Natural Sites Action plan [for] to move the Initiative forward