Protecting biocultural diversity at Kazdaği National Park, Balikesir, Turkey: the role of Sacred Natural Sites

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Issue: Volume 14, Issue 2, 2020


Official nature conservation efforts have lasted a little more than a century in the world. However, the history of protection of Sacred Natural Sites (SNSs) by local cultural groups goes back thousands of years because these places have sacred value and meaning for them. This article documents, categorises, and maps the SNSs in Kazdağı National Park (KDNP), one of the most significant national parks in terms of biocultural diversity. Official nature conservation practices in the area focus on preserving biological resources but neglect cultural, sacred, and spiritual resources and practices inside the park. 24 SNSs have been identified in and around the KDNP, and have been categorised and mapped based on their characteristics. The study identifies how SNSs are protected by traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and discusses how they can be integrated into modern nature protection programs. SNSs can provide an opportunity for park managers to include more spiritual and sacred dimension to their work, yet they might cause overcrowding of protected areas because of excessive tourist flows. Therefore, careful planning balancing the biological and cultural approaches, and being both locally inclusive and participatory, is necessary. Recognising and including SNSs in protected area management practice will both protect the rights of local communities and ensure the sustainable use of natural resources.

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Authors Affiliations

Yılmaz Arı (1)
1) Bandirma Onyedi Eylül University, Turkey
* Corresponding author.


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Prof. dr. Liliana Dumitrache
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Geography- Human and Economic Geography Department, 1 Nicolae Balcescu Av., 010041, Bucharest, Romania

Dr. Daniela Dumbrăveanu
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Geography- Human and Economic Geography Department, 1 Nicolae Balcescu Av., 010041, Bucharest, Romania

Dr. Mariana Nae
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Geography- Human and Economic Geography Department, 1 Nicolae Balcescu Av., 010041, Bucharest, Romania

Dr. Gabriel Simion
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Geography- Human and Economic Geography Department, 1 Nicolae Balcescu Av., 010041, Bucharest, Romania

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