How can faith-based approaches protect biodiversity?

Maheshwari, Aishwarya; Bhagwat, Shonil; Hoang, Lam Van and Karpate, Yogita (2024). How can faith-based approaches protect biodiversity? Journal for Nature Conservation, 78, article no. 126578.



People’s coexistence with nature is one of the most important global challenges today. Addressing this challenge requires a fundamental change in one’s attitudes, behaviours and practices. Given the overlap between conservation goals, and religious teachings and practices that focus on environmental sustainability, a faith-based approach is considered an effective and ethical way of bringing about a lasting change. We conducted an exhaustive review of published papers and reports exploring the theoretical correlation between religion and biodiversity conservation to identify gaps and analyse the influence of religious beliefs and practices on conservation efforts. Religious institutions can influence conservation on at least two levels– a) religious organisations own a substantial proportion of the world’s habitable land, which can be managed to enhance biodiversity, and b) religious leaders can influence the perceptions of their followers and enable a change in their attitudes, behaviours and practices. In this review, we explore the linkages between religion and biodiversity conservation and ask: To what extent can religion play a role in slowing down biodiversity loss? We also discuss the challenges and limitations of engaging with faith-based approaches, especially in cases where religious goals do not fully align with conservation goals.

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