Shrines in Central Italy conserve plant diversity and large trees
- 284 Downloads
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.
KeywordsBiocultural conservation Biodiversity Central Italy Old-growth forests Sacred natural sites Traditional management
We express our gratitude to the local communities that welcomed us to their sacred sites. We thank Andy Hector for his encouragement and support, Mariele Signorini, and Fabio Conti for precious advices on local vegetation, Elisa Locandro for assistance with sampling, Elena Conti and Reto Nyffeler for access to herbarium facilities at the University of Zurich, and Giovanni Roffarè for invaluable contributions to plant identification. FF was funded by the Research Fund of the University of Zurich and acknowledges support from the Cogito Foundation. RG gratefully acknowledges the DAAD scholarship (nr. 50015559) for a two-month stay at the Hannover University, Institut für Geobotanik, where he received valuable suggestions and reading assignments from Hansjörg Küster. Finally, we thank two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments that improved this article.
- Aeschimann, D., K. Lauber, D.M. Moser, and J.P. Theurillat. 2004. Flora alpina. Bern: Haupt.Google Scholar
- Berkes, F. 1999. Sacred ecology, 2nd ed. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Blasi, C., E. Biondi, R. Copiz, D. Galdenzi, and S. Pesaresi. 2010. Manuale italiano di interpretazione degli habitat (Direttiva 92/43/CEE). Roma: Ministero dell’Ambiente.Google Scholar
- Colding, J., and C. Folke. 2009. Social taboos: “Invisible” systems of local resource management and biological conservation. Ecological Applications 11: 584–600.Google Scholar
- CSC (Censimento dei Santuari Cristiani in Italia). 2003. Censimento dei Santuari Cristiani in Italia. Retrieved 8 January, 2013, from http://www.santuaricristiani.iccd.beniculturali.it/.
- Dudley, N., S. Bhagwat, L. Higgins-Zogib, B. Lassen, B. Verschuuren, and R. Wild. 2010. Conservation of biodiversity in sacred natural sites in Asia and Africa: A review of the scientific literature. In Sacred natural sites: Conserving nature and culture, ed. B. Verschuuren, R. Wild, J. McNeeley, and G. Oviedo, 19–32. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
- EC (European Commission). 1992. Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora. Luxemburg: EU.Google Scholar
- Ellenberg, H. 1996. Vegetation Mitteleuropas mit den Alpen in ökologischer, dynamischer und historischer Sicht. Stuttgart: Ulmer.Google Scholar
- ESA (European Space Agency). 2010. GlobCover 2009: Global land cover map. Retrieved 30 May, 2011, from http://ionia1.esrin.esa.int/.
- ESRI. 2010. ArcGis 10.0. Redlands, CA: Environmental Systems Research Institute.Google Scholar
- Frascaroli, F., and B. Verschuuren. forthcoming. Linking biocultural diversity and sacred sites: Evidence and recommendations in the European framework. In Biocoltural Diversity in Europe, ed. M. Agnoletti and F. Emanueli. Berlin: Springer Verlag.Google Scholar
- Guarino, R., P. Menegoni, S. Pignatti, and S. Tulumello. 2015. A territorial contradiction. In Nature policies and landscape policies: Towards and alliance—Urban and landscape perspectives 18, ed. R. Gambino, and A. Peano, 69–76. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
- Guarino, R., M. La Rosa, and S. Pignatti. forthcoming. Flora d’Italia digitale, 2nd ed. Bologna: Edagricole. Google Scholar
- Joppa, L.N., and A. Pfaff. 2010. High and far: Biases in the location of protected areas. PLoS ONE 4: 1–6.Google Scholar
- Mallarach, J.M., and T. Papayannis. 2010. Sacred natural sites in technologically developed countries: Reflections from the experience of the Delos Initiative. In Sacred natural sites: Conserving nature and culture, ed. B. Verschuuren, R. Wild, J. McNeeley, and G. Oviedo, 198–208. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
- Manzi, A. 2012. Storia dell’ambiente nell’Appennino Centrale. Treglio: Meta Edizioni.Google Scholar
- Pignatti, S. forthcoming. Flora d’Italia, 2nd ed. Bologna: Edagricole. Google Scholar
- R Core Team. 2014. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna: R Foundation for Statistical Computing. http://www.R-project.org/.
- Rackham, O. 2006. Woodlands. London: Harper & Collins.Google Scholar
- Valdés, A., J. Lenoir, E. Gallet-Moron, E. Andrieu, J. Brunet, O. Chabrerie, D. Closset-Kopp, S.A.O. Cousins, et al. 2015. The contribution of patch-scale conditions is greater than that of macroclimate in explaining local plant diversity in fragmented forests across Europe. Global Ecology and Biogeography 24: 1094–1105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Verschuuren, B., R. Wild, J. McNeeley, and G. Oviedo. 2010. Sacred natural sites: Conserving nature and culture. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
- Wild, R., and C. McLeod (eds.). 2008. Sacred natural sites: Guidelines for protected areas managers. Gland: IUCN.Google Scholar