Mission to Sakya Tashi Ling. Inclusion of Tibetan Buddhist Perspective in the Management of the Property of the Monastery and presentation of a new management plan, Garraf Natural Park, Catalonia, Spain

Mission to Sakya Tashi Ling. Inclusion of Tibetan Buddhist Perspective in the Management of the Property of the Monastery and presentation of a new management plan, Garraf Natural Park, Catalonia, Spain

At the Montserrat workshop, a Buddhist monk (Jamyang Richen / Jordi Gómez) asked The Delos Initiative for guidance so as to improve the inclusion of spiritual and cultural values from their interpretation of Tibetan Buddhist traditions into the management plan of the property of Sakya Tashi Ling monastery.  The management plan itself is being prepared by a consulting firm, sponsored by the Fundació Territori i Paisatge. The monastery is located in the center of El Garraf Natural Park, near Barcelona, and is a case study of The Delos initiative.

Isabel Soria volunteered to undertake this task, after her experience on the Holy island of Arran, Scotland (managed by another Buddhist community) with the support of Josep Maria Mallarach. They were invited to stay in the monastery from the 20th to the 27th of January 2007, in order to understand the link between nature and Tibetan Buddhist spiritual values. They had the chance to experience daily life in the monastery, to study plans and documentation and to interview the leader and members of the community, as well as other key actors, such as the mayor of the municipality and a number of visitors.

As a result of the study, a proposal for a new version of the management plan was drafted and presented to Sakya Tashi Ling and the Barcelona Province Natural Areas Agency in charge of El Garraf Park. The initial management plan was based on the ecological values of the property, whereas the improved version prepared within the framework of the Delos Initiative by  J.M. Mallarach and I. Soria, during the last months, integrates the Vajrayana cultural and spiritual values linked to nature conservation. Therefore, the plan has the aim of “implementing and enhancing the religious value of the site in order to have a space to develop inner improvement and disseminate the practice and teachings needed to achieve enlightenment”. This main goal is supported by the protection and improvement of the natural values, the development of public use of the site in a respectful manner and the recovery of certain traditional land uses in selected portions of the state, which will provide habitat for some endangered fauna species. The plan includes a comparative analysis of goals and actions related to conservation biology and Tibetan Buddhist sciences.

On March 28th the abbot of the Monastery, Lama Jamyang Tashi Dorje Rinpoché organised an official lunch in order to discuss and present the new management plan. J. Sargatal, M. Rafa, and J. Rofes, from Fundació Territori i Paisatge, X. Romero, of the consulting firm, Lama Dorje Dondrub, director of the Monastery Trust, and Isabel Soria and Josep Maria Mallarach, from the Delos Initiative, attended the lunch. The entire afternoon was devoted to discussions of the plan and included suggested improvements. Finally, all agreed to support the Plan.

The following day, 29th of March, the same document was presented to the Natural Areas Department of the Barcelona Province Council, the agency in charge of the Garraf Park, where the Sakya Monastery is located. The aim was to help finding common ground between spiritual and conservation values in order to improve the synergies for conservation. J.M. Mallarach introduced the Delos Initiative and gave examples of ways of solving problems between spiritual communities and protected area managers in sites around the world. I. Soria presented the new management plan, stressing the wish of reaching consensus with the Park. The president of the Prevain Trust, J. Gómez, explained the point of view of the Monastery. R. Espinach and J. Roget, heads of the Barcelona province Natural Areas Service, and S. Llacuna, management director of El Garraf Park had a very open attitude, showing willingness to find common ground, and agreed to review the management plan and make suggestions to reach a common position.

Hence, it seems that this contribution, within the framework of the Delos Initiative, to this pioneering management plan could help integrating the spiritual and cultural values and requirements of the Buddhist Monastery in nature conservation of the Park, as well as enhancing positive synergies between the Park managers and the Monastery.

The authors are grateful to the Sakya Tashi Ling monastery for their generous hospitality and to the Silene Association for covering the travel expenses.