The Ritual Protection of Enspirited Sacred Natural Sites on the Tibetan Plateau and the Optimization of Lay Participation
Keywords:Cognition, perception, participatoory GIS, multidimensional scaling
Little was known, until recently, about the widespread recovery of biodiversity that has taken place in Sacred Natural Sites (SNS) on the Tibetan Plateau since the revival of religious practices in 1978 and the felling ban in 1998. Research within the last 20 years has concluded that there is greater biodiversity in many SNS than in adjacent lands and there has been a recovery of ritual protection practice. The author critiques the most widely quoted research papers and contrasts them with research predicated on participatory research among Tibetan lay people. Many of the findings and conclusions from the most widely quoted research papers have focussed on the metrics of biodiversity and interviews in Tibetan Buddhist and Bon institutions. This appears to result in a biased interpretation of environmental protection and biodiversity recovery. As a result, lay participation in the ritual protection of SNS is sub-optimized in conservation planning and most village-designated SNS are not being recognized internationally.
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