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International Journal of Ecology
Volume 2017, Article ID 3828609, 12 pages
https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/3828609
Research Article

Sacred Groves: Myths, Beliefs, and Biodiversity Conservation—A Case Study from Western Himalaya, India

1Department of Environmental Sciences, HNB Garhwal University, Srinagar, Garhwal, Uttarakhand 246174, India
2Centre for Environmental Science and Technology, Central University of Punjab, Bathinda, Punjab 151001, India
3Department of Botany and Microbiology, HNB Garhwal University, Srinagar, Garhwal, Uttarakhand 246174, India
4Saving Knowledge, Casilla 13092, La Paz, Bolivia

Correspondence should be addressed to Zubair A. Malik; moc.liamg@180riabuzmkilam

Received 20 July 2017; Accepted 7 September 2017; Published 31 October 2017

Academic Editor: Béla Tóthmérész

Copyright © 2017 Sushma Singh et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Religious and traditional beliefs, cultural mores, and practices play a crucial role in the conservation of environment and biodiversity. The present paper describes a case study of two sacred groves in Western Himalaya. Sacred groves (SGs) are patches of land that are communally protected with religious zeal. A preliminary survey was conducted in these SGs to study their role in biodiversity conservation. The data collected included the general information regarding the SGs and the associated deity, nearest human habitation, access to them, and their floral and faunal diversity. Ethnomedicinal property of plants was collected from the indigenous communities. Many taboos are associated with both the SGs, which help in managing resources well through ritual representation. Different festivals are organized, where the local communities reaffirm their commitment to the forest and the deity. Sacred groves, in general, are a valuable tool of biodiversity conservation. But people’s changing attitudes, erosion of traditional beliefs, and human impact have caused degradation of sacred groves over the years. Their conservation would not be possible without the active participation of the local people. By improving their living standards and by giving benefits of conservation to them, long-term conservation goals in these SGs can be achieved.