Europe’s Sacred Natural Sites Need Recognition

Europe’s Sacred Natural Sites Need Recognition

Sacred natural sites hold spiritual and intangible values that are often hidden to the modern world. The book ‘The Diversity of Sacred Lands in Europe’ describes the many sacred natural sites in the protected areas of Europe. Some are well-known sacred places of mainstream religions, some with limited access on monastic lands, and some again of particular significance to indigenous people.

The book is good reading for anyone interested in the intangible values of natural sites. It is especially valuable to the managers of the many protected areas of Europe. Special emphasis is given to the sacred places of Europe’s only indigenous people, the Sámi, living in northern Finland, Sweden, Norway and North-West Russia.

The book discusses the threats to the sacred natural sites faced in many parts of Europe, such as a poor acknowledgement of the intangible values, visitor pressures, expanding urbanisation and insensitive development initiatives, but also ways to solve the issues raised.

A collection of articles by authors, who participated in the third workshop of the Delos Initiative in Inari/Aanaar in Finland in 2010, from more than a dozen countries, the book describes sacred natural sites in Albania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, North-West Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

The editors of the publication are Josep-Maria Mallarach, Thymio Papayannis and Rauno Väisänen. The preface of the book was written by Archbishop Kari Mäkinen of Finland.

The book is published by IUCN and Metsähallitus Natural Heritage Services of Finland, and financed by the Finnish Ministry of the Environment.

The Delos Initiative is an activity of the Specialist Group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas of the IUCN World Commission of Protected Areas (WCPA). The Delos Initiative was started in 2004 to strengthen the identification, integrated management and conservation of sacred natural sites within protected areas of industrialised countries in cooperation with their custodians and with local communities.

Metsähallitus Natural Heritage Services is the manager of Finland’s national parks and other protected areas.

Name of the publication
The Diversity of Sacred Lands in Europe: Proceedings of the Third Workshop of the Delos Initiative – Inari/Aanaar 2010. ISBN 978-2-8317-1423-3.

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More information

Josep-Maria Mallarach (mallarach (at)
Thymio Papayannis (thymiop (at)
Rauno Väisänen (rauno.vaisanen (at)

Delos Initiative: and
Publishers: and