IUCN UNESCO Guidelines for Protected Area Managers

These guidelines  primarily assist protected area managers, especially those with sacred sites located within the boundaries of their legally established protected areas. However they are useful to a wider audience.

It would be inappropriate for IUCN or UNESCO (or any other organisations intervening from outside) to provide management advice regarding sacred sites without the permission and advice from the appropriate custodians. It is hoped that the guidelines will promote cooperation between protected area managers and custodians of sacred sites towards the enhanced conservation of these special places.

In their current form, the guidelines are relatively detailed and prescriptive. The 44 guidance points are grouped into six principles. In terms of flow, they generally develop from the specific and local to the more general and national level. The guidelines contain 16 case studies. The guidelines are available in English, Spanish, Estonian and Russian. Chinese and Japanese translations are under way. Volunteers are using the guidelines in protected areas and others currently translate the core  guidelines into many more languages. You may do the same.

The Guidelines have been developed by the IUCN Specialist group on Cultural and spiritual Values of Protected Areas and edited by Robert Wild and Christopher McLeod under the Auspices of IUCN and UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme. The Guidelines are Number 16 of the Best Practice Protected Area Guidelines Series produced by IUCN's World Commission on protected Areas which is edited by. Prof. Peter Valentine.

These Guidelines are also available in Spanish and Russian and are currently being translated and tested in the field. If you are a professional translator or interested in translating the guidelines please contact us for guidance on the process.
Hopi elder consults with US Forest Service Archaeologist at a mining operation that has destroyed a pilgrimage route into the sacred San Francisco Peak. (Source: C. McLeod)
Whom are the guidelines meant for?
While managers of protected areas are the main focus for the guidelines, it is hoped that they will be of use to a wider group of stakeholders and policymakers. This advice is therefore aimed at:
  • Managers of individual protected areas with sacred natural sites located either within them or nearby;
  • Mangers of protected areas systems who have scared natural sites within or in the sphere of influence of their network of protected areas;
  • Natural resource ministries responsible for protected area agencies and systems.
Other stakeholders that may find these guidelines useful are:
  • Planning authorities responsible for land-use planning and natural resource development outside protected areas;
  • Traditional custodians who wish to engage with environmental or protected area authorities to increase the protection of their sacred sites, or seek or offer advice about ecological management;
  • Non-government and other agencies that are providing support to the custodians of sacred natural sites;
  • Other custodians, governments NGOs and industry that wish to support the conservation of sacred natural sites.