Forest services, conservation and religion (CCD-Coalition / olyecology)

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CCD-Coalition 191 – Earth’s Tree News


In the developing countries, the necessity of publicizing services of forests is severely lacking and wanting. This sector must be given attention with especial emphasis. The country like Bangladesh has to be very serious in all respects to understand and exercise the services offered by the forests. We must remember that the services are very important and useful and they could be made so if we become serious about the maintenance of forests as the services deserve. Religious conservation practice is, however, a ritual or tradition linked to a particular faith and is based on a religious belief. This type of conservation implies ‘belief in the existence of God who has created the universe and given man a spiritual nature which continues to exist even after the death of the body’. Religious belief plays a major role in conservation of nature and natural resources.

Religious leaders generally impose religious meaning or sanctity to certain places as symbol of God’s existence. As a consequence, places with these religious taboos normally enjoy a high degree of priority in terms of conservation. The holy books of every religion cite something or the other in favour of such natural conservation. For example, the Holy Quran says man is born with nature made by Allah and he indeed prospers who purifies it; and he is ruined who corrupts it. The Srimav Bhagavatam says that one should look upon deer, camels, monkeys, donkeys, rats, reptiles, birds and fleas as though they were their own children. The Bhuddists too believe that the branch of a tree must never be cut so as to destroy the shade beneath which Lord Buddha had taken shelter. In this manner though the believers do not directly participate in conservation but disallow others to destroy nature. Apart from Hinduism, the two major religions Buddhism and Jainism organised in the region around 2500 years ago. Both preached against animal sacrifice at religious ceremonies and emphasised compassion towards all forms of life.

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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