The tweets prior to the event showed this years’ hot issues at the International Congress of Conservation Biology (ICCB) in Montpellier France would be ‘drones’ and ‘religion’. As part of the latter, SNSI was invited collaborate in a session on the role of faith and spirituality in conservation organised by the Society on Conservation Biology’s Working Group on Religion and Conservation.
Building on the conclusions of the presentation SNSI’s coordinator and CSVPA Co-chair, Mr. Bas Verschuuren was invited to further elaborate on the idea of “creating common ground” in a round table discussion on the opportunities for collaboration between conservation and faith together with the Mr. David Johns (SCB Chair), Ms. Dekila Chungjalpa (WWF Sacred Earth Programme, Yale School of Religion) and his honourable Mr. Tebaldo Vinciguerra (The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace). The overall tone of the round table was very optimistic in terms of faith leaders building alliances with conservationists in caring for creation. The perceived ontological split between religiously informed faith leaders and science based conservationists appeared less gaping, especially when it turned out that people on both sides have both interests and value the efforts made towards joint objectives.
A presentation on the work of SNSI’s partners in Guatemala further informed the audience about how to create common ground between indigenous spiritual leaders, religious followers and the interests of private industry. Attention was drawn to the use of community protocols and participatory videos developed by the communities of spiritual leaders in Chichicastenango and San Andreas.
The collaboration with the SCB working Group on Religion and Conservation came into existence through the editors of SSIREN newsletter on Sacred Sites, Ms. Emma Shepheard-Walwyn and Mr. Fabrizio Frascarole. Both are also doing excellent work on the conservation of respectively Kenyan and Italian sacred natural sites. Interesting work of which we are expecting to see more as SNSI “conservation experiences” and case studies are being developed, stay tuned!