Within the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the Specialist Group onthe Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas (CSVPA) seeks to:

Investigate the interface between humanity and nature

Promote the integrated management of the natural and cultural heritage

Harmonise cultural and spiritual aspirations with the conservation of nature

Meteora, Greece
In this context, the DELOS Initiative focuses on the sacred natural sites in developed countries throughout the world (such as Australia, Canada, the European countries, Japan, New Zealand and the United States of America). Its main purpose is to help in maintaining both the sanctity and the biodiversity of these sites, through the understanding of the complex relationship between spiritual / cultural and natural values.
The concept of “sacred natural site” is used –both in the framework of the DELOS Initiative Specialist Group– as a catchword to cover a diversity of types of areas and nuances. These can be translated in the main world languages with quite different terms (such as holy places, inviolable sanctuaries, sacred precincts, spiritual sites, dream sites, places of power and various others).
Megalithic temple in Malta
The DELOS Initiative was established in the framework of WSPA IUCN after a proposal by Thymio Papayannis, director of MedINA. This gave rise to the project on the sacred sites in developed countries coordinated by Thymio Papayannis and Josep Maria Mallarach, chairman of the Silene Association.
MedINA was established in 2003 and is a non-profit organisation based in Athens, Greece. Its broader aim is to contribute to the development of a harmonious relationship between Humankind and Nature for the wellbeing of all. Its mission is to inspire people to recognise the value and connection between our natural and cultural heritage, and to work towards a just and sustainable future through research, working with communities, the exchange of ideas and knowledge, and networking in the Mediterranean and beyond.
Silene is a non-profit association established in Catalonia, whose mission is to study, disseminate and promote the intangible (spiritual and cultural) heritage and its associated values ​​in relation to Nature and its conservation, especially in natural protected areas. Its vision is to become a reference entity in the promotion of the values ​​and meanings that make up the intangible spiritual and cultural heritage linked to Nature, as well as its integration in various areas of the conservation of species, spaces, landscapes, and in implementing related strategies in interested organizations.

Basic concept

  • Background

    An idea came up to initiate within CSVPA a parallel and complementary action on sacred natural sites in developed countries.

  • Name

    The action be named ``DELOS Initiative``, from the Aegean Island, which during the Classical Greek period

  • General purpose and objectives

    The focus should be on sites with high biodiversity and preferably with a definite protection status.

  • Methodology

    It is proposed that the DELOS Initiative proceeds initially from the bottom-up, based on the analysis of specific sites.

  • Action plan

    The work would proceed in a number of steps.

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