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Ecosystem Services and Sacred Natural Sites: Reconciling Material and Non-material Values in Nature Conservation

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  • Shonil A. Bhagwat
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    Abstract

    Ecosystems services are provisions that humans derive from nature. Ecologists trying to value ecosystems have proposed five categories of these services: preserving, supporting, provisioning, regulating and cultural. While this ecosystem services framework attributes 'material' value to nature, sacred natural sites are areas of 'non-material' spiritual significance to people. Can we reconcile the material and non-material values? Ancient classical traditions recognise five elements of nature: earth, water, air, fire and ether. This commentary demonstrates that the perceived properties of these elements correspond with the ecosystem services framework. Whilst the two can be reconciled, the 'elements of nature' framework is argued to be more suitable to make a case for conservation of sacred natural sites because it can be attractive to traditional societies whilst being acceptable to Western science.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by White Horse Press in its journal Environmental Values.

    Volume (Year): 18 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 4 (November)
    Pages: 417-427

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    Handle: RePEc:env:journl:ev18:ev1817

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    Web page: http://www.erica.demon.co.uk

    Related research

    Keywords: Ecosystem services; elements; nature; sacred sites;

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    1. R. Turner & G. Daily, 2008. "The Ecosystem Services Framework and Natural Capital Conservation," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 39(1), pages 25-35, January.
    2. Clive L. Spash, 2008. "How Much is that Ecosystem in the Window? The One with the Bio-diverse Trail," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 17(2), pages 259-284, May.
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    8. Kumar, Manasi & Kumar, Pushpam, 2008. "Valuation of the ecosystem services: A psycho-cultural perspective," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(4), pages 808-819, February.
    9. John M. Gowdy, 1997. "The Value of Biodiversity: Markets, Society, and Ecosystems," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 73(1), pages 25-41.
    10. Erik Ansink & Lars Hein & Knut Per Hasund, 2008. "To Value Functions or Services? An Analysis of Ecosystem Valuation Approaches," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 17(4), pages 489-503, November.
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    12. Mark Sagoff, 2008. "On the Economic Value of Ecosystem Services," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 17(2), pages 239-257, May.
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