Programme Areas

SNSI is initiating work over six programme areas:
  1. Conservation action
  2. Partnership, dialogue & exchange
  3. Knowledge, and learning
  4. Guidance and policy
  5. Communication and awareness
  6. Financial support
These are supported via projects that are run in collaboration with partners, and based on a set of principles.

Conservation Action
On the ground projects aim to support priorities identified by custodians and are implemented by local partners.  The main aim is to secure the cultural, biological and spiritual values of sacred natural sites.  In addition they can form a fertile ground for the implementation and testing different approaches and methods. There are currently projects under development in Ghana, Tanzania and Guatemala.

As part of the 13th International Congress in France, participants of the Indigenous Forum dialogue on statements posed by the custodians of sacred natural sites in Africa. The custodians explain their statement to the other participants that bring their view points into the circle. (Photo: Kelly Banister)
Partnership, Dialogue and Exchange

The initiative works through partnership with a range of organisations. Some of these support custodians on the ground, while others work at policy and advocacy at national and international levels. Where conservation of sacred natural sites requires the collaboration of different stakeholders the work is based on dialogue.

Dialogue aims at mutual understanding and building of common purpose. It also that represent and built on learning experiences of custodians and their supporting organisations in conserving their sacred natural sites in the face of unsympathetic conservation, archeology, developing tourism, mining, forestry, and dominant religious practices for example.

Exchange allows the sharing of lessons and experiences of efforts to improve conservation of sacred sites at the policy and ground level. Ultimately exchanges between custodians to share experiences and challenges at their sacred lands are envisaged.

Knowledge and Learning

Traditional knowledge at sacred sites includes profound spiritual insights, cultural experience as well as knowledge of land, landscape, animals and plants. Combining mainstream scientific knowledge with traditional and cultural ways of knowing can provide a powerful tool for conservation efforts. In fact, recognizing these traditional and cultural imperially tested sources of knowledge it becomes more acceptable to talk about “sciences”.
Much of this cultural and spiritual knowledge related to sacred natural sites is, however, sensitive often restricted and sometimes secret, and requires the utmost respect. Based on the initiative's principles including free prior informed consent (FPIC) the Sacred Natural Sites Initiative is gathering and analyzing appropriate information and the experiences from different projects and partners and sharing them in different forms such as in workshops, developing learning materials and on this website.

Guidance and Policy
The development of guidance, policy and ultimately laws help to provide a supported framework for biocultural conservation. Guidelines have been one output of a dialogue. An example is the IUCN-UNESCO Best Practice Guidelines Sacred Natural Sites: Guidelines for Protected Area Managers. At the international and national level policy sensitization is urgently needed and the Sacred Natural Sites Initiative is actively promoting the voices of custodians in policy-making processes.
Communications and Awareness
Sacred natural sites have long been hidden and often marginalised within the nature conservation arena. This has been truer with regard to 'productive' sectors such as forestry, mining and infrastructure. Sensitive awareness of sacred natural sites and effective communications aim to help build support for sacred natural site conservation. Communication and awareness mechanisms under development by the initiative include documentation, reports, video film and other resources.
Financial Support
The Sacred Natural Sites Initiative is in its early development and has very limited own resources. It is primarily taken forward by voluntary contributions. It, however, aspires to seek resources for the support of sacred natural site conservation work. To support this work, volunteer or make a donation contact or use the PayPal button at the bottom of this page.