Table of Contents
Journal of Anthropology
Volume 2014, Article ID 595314, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/595314
Research Article

Sacred Groves: The Consequence of Traditional Management

Institute of Environment Education and Research, Bharati Vidyapeeth University, Pune 411030, India

Received 4 September 2014; Accepted 21 October 2014; Published 10 November 2014

Academic Editor: Kaushik Bose

Copyright © 2014 Arpita Vipat and Erach Bharucha. 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

The Western Ghats are one of the globally recognized “hot spots” of biodiversity in India. In Maharashtra small patches of forest in the Ghats are protected by local people as “sacred groves.” They are called “Devrai” which have been managed by local people and are dedicated to the deity in the grove. These groves act as benchmarks of less disturbed vegetation. The study has been conducted on fifteen groves through detailed expert and semistructured interviews of their priests and locals have been conducted to appreciate their traditional management systems. There is no evidence to show that the groves were intended primarily for biodiversity conservation or as a science based natural resource management strategy. Biodiversity conservation of groves is thus a by-product of a traditional belief of locals in the supernatural power of the forest deity. The concept of ICCAs (Indigenous Community Conserved Areas) and making registries of local knowledge of biodiversity as a tool for developing future conservation initiatives can act as a useful strategy to preserve the groves in the face of regional development pressures and gain government recognition for protecting the groves in the long term.