Save Our Holy Lands: UN to Preserve Sacred Sites

April 8, 2007

Author: Geoffrey Lean and Jude Townend

Source: The Independent

Hundreds of thousands of sacred places around the globe are to be linked together in a new UN-backed network to try to preserve the world's fast-disappearing wild species.

They range from Jerusalem's Garden Tomb - where more than 3,000 people gathered today to celebrate Easter - to "skull caves" in Kenya, from a Mongolian mountain revered as a living God to a "spiritual park" in the Peruvian Andes.

Last week the United Nations Development Programme joined the world's main religions and leading conservation organisations in an effort to protect them from development or destruction. They plan to set up a new internationally recognised designation along the lines of Unesco's World Heritage sites.

The world's religions are among the planet's biggest landowners. "Between them," a new Atlas of Religion concludes, "they own over 7 per cent of the habitable land of the planet." And their specially sacred sites are usually havens of wildlife because they have been safeguarded by spiritual traditions or taboos.