Sacred Sites are Key to Protecting Species
COP - BRAZIL
21 March 2006
From Reuters, by Marie-Louise Gumuchian
Brazil MeetingAlso targeted is the Boloma-Bijagos archipelago in Guinea-Bissau, where beaches and mangroves are used for rituals and are home to fish, crocodiles and hippos.
According to strict local community rules, certain areas are off limits and burials, shedding of blood and construction of permanent settlements are banned in some places.
"These traditional practices ... assist in the preservation of the sites for flora and fauna," said Gonzalo Oviedo of the World Conservation Union.
Other sites listed include the Taita skull caves in southern Kenya, where the bones of male members of the tribe are placed. Taboos surrounding the caves have led to small but important relics of indigenous forest surviving.
Wirikuta in Mexico's Chihuahan desert, where locals believe the sun was born, is home to around two-thirds of birds and mammals of the desert.
But it is under threat from uncontrolled tourism, agriculture, hunting and illegal trafficking of wildlife.
Communities managing such sites had made efforts locally but global action had been woefully inadequate, said Oviedo.
The "Conservation of Biodiversity Rich Sacred Natural Sites" initiative will be formally unveiled at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Brazil on March 20-31.
The meeting will review a world goal of slowing drastic acceleration of biodiversity by 2010, set at a summit in Johannesburg in 2002.
"Conserving sacred sites and their biological richness can play a major role in achieving the 2010 target and perhaps act as beacons from where good and sustainable management practices can be exported to nearby areas and beyond," Toepfer said.
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