Sacred Groves

Jan 20th, 2011 | By | Category: Youth Blog

Hello, folks, and sorry for the lull in posts. I’m going to take off my biologist hat for a while, and put on my conservation hat for a while. I’ve told you a lot about my research on Pelargonium, but that’s actually only one of two theses I’m working on – the other is on the topic of sacred groves.

What, you ask, is a sacred grove?

The concept of a “sacred grove” stems from the idea that cultures around the world see trees as sacred, holy or otherwise somehow close to God(s). During my research on groves, I’ve found that every populated continent has, or at one time in history did have, sacred groves; these groves are unbelievably diverse, as are the beliefs that protect them. However, I’ve also found that there’s a lot of commonalities – for instance, two particular kinds of trees are actually worshipped on Europe, Africa and Asia – completely independently! These trees are figs and oaks. So until my next post, I have something of a riddle for you folks: how is a fig like an oak? And why would they be useful to people? If you have any idea, please post it in the comments… I’ll acknowledge anyone who sends in their thoughts in my next post, when I’ll reveal the three key traits they share. Until then, thinking caps out….

But anyway, why should we care about sacred groves? Deforestation – the loss of forests due to logging, slash-and-burn agriculture or other human effects – is a major threat to forests all around the world, but especially in tropical countries like India which are hotspots of biodiversity (alright, so the biologist hat never really got off my head….) and sacred groves. Groves also have the potential to protect forest in Western countries like England, where forests are protected as cultural heritage sites even if no one really believes they’re actually haunted or home to spirits – and that’s important, because forests are still vulnerable to development in Western countries.┬áSo to summarize, why do we need sacred groves? They protect biodiversity, and ecosystems, which may be found nowhere else in the landscape!

That’s all for now. Don’t forget to start thinking about the riddle, and I really do hope somebody will comment with an idea! Happy holidays, and stay safe, everyone.

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