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World’s sacred forests may fall prey to developers, scientists warn.

NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Sacred forests, which have mainly been protected by indigenous communities following traditional beliefs, are among the few remaining forest ecosystems that have been spared by loggers, but they are increasingly under threat, scientists warn.

“Evidence has shown that many people, including loggers, have for years respected, or have been afraid of going against some religious beliefs – and that has long been a conservation measure for several sacred forests around the world,” said Prasit Wangpakapattanawong, assistant professor at the forest restoration research unit of Thailand’s Chiang Mai University.

Most sacred forests are found in Asian countries, especially India, where they have for centuries been preserved and protected by adherents of Buddhism, a religion indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, Wangpakapattanawong said at the World Agroforestry Centre’s 2013 science week in Nairobi last month.

But the ever-growing