A Survey of Sacred Lands in Ganzi Prefecture, Tibet
Conservation International (CI) has worked to establish and build the capacity of Tibetan nongovernmental organizations in local communities. In partnership with the communities, CI has undertaken to survey the sacred lands, whilst developing local capacity for protecting their biodiversity and revitalizing the Tibetan cultural values of respect and reverence for nature. Capitalizing on the inherent conservation ethic, CI and local partners surveyed 67 monasteries throughout the 15-million-hectare Ganzi prefecture to identify more than 200 sacred mountains and lakes. CI efforts and collaboration with local governments, monasteries and communities helped pave the way for local officials to transfer some authority over the sacred lands to monasteries and communities.
CI also worked with local governments and entities such as the Yajiang Forestry Bureau to provide training for monks and local residents in species monitoring and other aspects of conservation. Monasteries may prove to be the key to protecting sacred sites. Buddhist monks patrol the mountains and forests designated sacred by their monasteries, protecting them from hunting and regulating herb collection. About 20 percent of monasteries have effective protection mechanisms in place. CI is working with them to spread their tactics more widely among Tibetan communities, and to promote awareness of the need to preserve nature.