The Open UniversitySkip to content

Shrines in Central Italy conserve plant diversity and large trees

Frascaroli, Fabrizio; Bhagwat, Shonil; Guarino, Riccardo; Chiarucci, Alessandro and Schmid, Bernhard (2016). Shrines in Central Italy conserve plant diversity and large trees. Ambio, 45(4) pp. 468–479.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


Sacred natural sites (SNS) are instances of biocultural landscapes protected for spiritual motives. These sites frequently host important biological values in areas of Asia and Africa, where traditional resource management is still upheld by local communities. In contrast, the biodiversity value of SNS has hardly been quantitatively tested in Western contexts, where customs and traditions have relatively lost importance due to modernization and secularization. To assess whether SNS in Western contexts retain value for biodiversity, we studied plant species composition at 30 SNS in Central Italy and compared them with a paired set of similar but not sacred reference sites. We demonstrate that SNS are important for conserving stands of large trees and habitat heterogeneity across different land-cover types. Further, SNS harbor higher plant species richness and a more valuable plant species pool, and significantly contribute to diversity at the landscape scale. We suggest that these patterns are related not only to pre-existent features, but also to traditional management. Conservation of SNS should take into account these specificities, and their cultural as well as biological values, by supporting the continuation of traditional management practices.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2015 Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
ISSN: 1654-7209
Keywords: biocultural conservation; biodiversity; Central Italy; old-growth forests; sacred natural sites; traditional management
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Social Sciences and Global Studies > Geography
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Social Sciences and Global Studies
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Research Group: OpenSpace Research Centre (OSRC)
International Development & Inclusive Innovation
Item ID: 47440
Depositing User: Shonil Bhagwat
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2016 09:37
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2019 20:01
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU