Chapter2: Review of LiteratureAround the world sacred forests represent atraditional form of community conservation. There is a wide variation in thesize of sacred forests. Some of them are small fragments of forests, whileothers are more extensive, spanning several hectares. These forests arescattered all over the world.
They have biological significance in relation tothe preservation of biodiversity of the world. Sacred forests have beenreported by different researchers from different parts of world like Bachmann(1992) from West Africa, Molyneaux (1995) from Nigeria, Schaaf (1998) fromGhanna, Zamam (1998) from Afghanistan, Withanage (1998) from Srilanka andGongorin (1998) from Mangolia. Priority needs to be given to strengthentraditional systems of conservation of natural resources.
Various research Papersfrom India (Gadgil and Vartak 1975, 1976; Chandrakanth and Romm 1991; Danielset al. 1993; Ramakrishnan 1996; Bharuch 1999; Ramanujam and Cyril 2003;Upadhaya et al. 2003; Ghate et al.
2004), and Africa (Lebbie and Guries 1995;Lebbie and Freudenberger 1996; Millar et al. 1999; Mgumai and Oba 2003)demonstrate the biological saliency and utility of sacred areas forbiodiversity conservation. Numerous papers on the role of indigenous culturesand beliefs in the sacred landscapes of southwest China have been published inrecent years (e.g., Li et al. 1996; Pei and Luo 2000; Xie et al.
2000; Zhang2000). A study by Liu et al. (2002) demonstrates that restoration of holy hillsby Bai villagers in Xishuangbanna has increased plant biodiversity there. Byerset al. (2001) show that sacred forests have persisted longer than non-sacredforests in Zimbabwe, while Godbole (1996) found similar results in India. Theseforests have widely been recorded from many pockets in Asia and Africa (Frazer,1980) also in Ugunda the chieftaincy of the Wanyamwezi and in central Tanzaniaeight sacred forests have been reported, representing burial sites that variedfrom 6-300 years old, these were inventorized to compare plant species richnessand taxonomic diversity with those of forest plots in a state managed forestreserve.Sacred forests in the Sierra Leone were assessed for their value tolocal herbalists and traditional medicinal practitioners of the Kppa Mendepeople.
Herbalists (tufablaa) collecting in 23 sacred forests were interviewedregarding theirknowledge of medicinal plants. Sacred forests are also found in Australia,Asia, Europe, Africa and America. Their existence has been reported in Nigeria,Turkey, Ghana, Japan and Syria (Hughes and Chandran, 1997). In Ghana, Abiriwsacred forest was introduced for showing faunal species diversity andabundance, in the eastern region of Ghana. Bowe (2009) has described thehistory of ancient Greece and mentioned about the sacred forests present in thecountry. Traces of Hindusium still survive in the Bali island of Indonesia. Alltemples, irrespective of size, are associated with sacred forests. A forest at”Sangesh Holy Forest” in Bali is a spectacular patch of tall and denseDipterocarps.
However, the size and quality have declined over the years,mainly due to encroachments (Vannucci, 1995). Numerous areas within thislandscape are considered ‘sacred by the indigenous Tibetans of the region. InIndia, these sacred forests exist under different names as Sarna or Dev inMadhya Pradesh, Orans in Rajashthan, Sarnas in Bihar and Devrai or Devrahati inMaharashtra. These forests occur in variety of habitats from scrub forests ofThar desert, maintained by Bishnois, to rain forests of Kerala in WesternGhats. Himanchal Pradesh in the North and of Kerala in the south isspecifically known for their large number of sacred forests. India has thehighest concentration of sacred forests in the world. Estimates suggest thatthere might be between 100 000 and 150 000 sacred forests around the country(Malhotra et al., 2007).
In India, 13,720 sacred forests have been reported sofar, in 19 states. In south India, about 2000 forests occur in Kerala(Rajendraprasad, 1995), 1600 in Maharashtra (Deshmukh et al.,1998), 800 inAndhra Pradesh (Anon, 1998) and 448 in Tamil Nadu (Amrithlingam, 1998). Manyother researchers have also contributed to the addition of sacred forests inIndia. Elwin, 1950; Risley, 1981; Vartak and Gadgil, 1981; Adhikary, 1984; Hughes,1984; Gadgil, 1985; Vartak et al., 1987; Patnaik, 1992; Roy, 1997; Meher-Homji,1997; Raman, 1997; Nair et al.,1997; Kadamban, 1998; Khurana, 1998;Tiwari etal., 1998; Kothari et al.
, 1998; Kadamban, 1998; Ramanujam and Kadamban, 1998,Ramanujam, 2000; Ramanujam and Cyril, 2002; Swamy, et al., 2003; Tambat et al.,2005; Vasan and Kumar, 2006; and Singh 2012, have contributed to the biodiversity of sacredforests in India. Plant worship in India is very ancient.
Significantly theseplants are used in different ceremonies and their role in festivals has beenworked out (Bhatla et al., 1984). Cultural and ecological dimensions of sacred forestsin India were described by Malhotra et al., (2001). Kumar (2009), has mentionedconservation strategies of biodiversity in Konkan region of CoastalMaharashtra. Much work was done by various scientists and practitioners onsacred forests in especially in theNorthern and Western parts. Kanayakumari District is one of the richestphytogeographical regions in Tamil Nadu. Floristic work in the sacred forest inPudukottai district was done by Britto et al.
, (2001). He described about 176genera and 260 species. Again, Britto et al., (2001) presents the flora of asacred forest in Vamban in Pudukottai district, Tamil Nadu.
The study areacomprises of 63 families having 175 genera in and 224 species. Ownership of the forests and the belief ofthe people on local deities “living” inside the forest are two decisive factors,which decide the conservation of the sacred forests in Kerala. A total 761sacred forests has described by Induchoodan (1988, 1996) in the Western Ghatsand the coastal plains of Kerala. Surveys of sacred forests of Kerala byRamachandran (1993) indicated rich diversity of endemism in terms ofbiodiversity.
These forests can be regarded as the treasure houses of endemicand rare species (Chandrashekhara and Sanker, 1998). Sociobiological aspects ofsacred forests of different ecological zones of Tamil Nadu were investigated byOliver et al.,1997. M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai (MSSRF), haslaunched a community biodiversity Programme, which incorporates documentationof the sacred forests in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu (Nanditha, 1996). Kalam(1996) traces the way Devara Kadus sacred forests, in Kodagu district ofKarnataka, have been affected since the latter half of the last century.
Kushalappa and Bhagwat (2001) and Kushalappa et.al. (2001) have been working onthe conservation and management of sacred forests of Kodagu, Karnataka in SouthIndia. In year 2003, Bhandari & Chandrashekar, worked in the sacred forestsof Dakshina Khannada and Udupi districts of Karnataka state. They have given alist of some species of plants found in the sacred forests of Dakshina Kannadaand Udupi districts which are endemic to Peninsular India and Western Ghats ofIndia. The institution of sacred forests in the state is recognized by variousnames like Jahera, Thakuramma, etc. Malhotra and Das (1997) and Malhotra et al.(1998) report 322 sacred forests from Semiliguda block of Korapat district.
Kulkarni et al., (1993) give a floristic account of a sacred forest nearvillage Bijadihi Distt Orissa. Besides, a sacred pool in Orissa has also beendescribed. In all the studied villages, the communities, irrespective ofethnicity, language, religion, age or gender observed traditional values andhave been ethnic in maintaining the biological and cultural integrity of the sacredsites. Burman (1992) and Kumbhojkar (1996) have compared the socialsignificance of the sacred forests among the tribes of Mahastra such as MahadeoKolis and the Kunbis. An inventory of the sacred forests of Devrais of theMaharashtra was prepared and detailed information on the location, area andassociated deity is available for 233 forests from the districts of Thana, Jalgaon,Kolaba, Satara, Pune, Kolhapur, Bhandara, Yewatmal, and Chandrapur (Gadgil andVartak, 1981).
The ten sacred forests situated along the North-Western Ghats inMaharashtra viz. Ajiwali, Baneshwar, Marleshwar, Kassarde, Mangaon, Shirgaon, Rasape(Ramkhand), Taleran, Tungi and Tiwadi representing various forest types, havebeen studied by Kosambi in 1962, Gadgil & Vatak, 1973, 1981. In 1996, Godbole, described the role oftribals in the preservation of sacred forests. Documentation of the floristic diversityof sacred forests has been also done by Bor (1942), Upadhye et al.
, (1987),Kumbhojkar and Vartak (1988). Kulkarni et al., (1993), Chandrakant (1997) hasdescribed importance in relation to natural resource bases and cultural valuesin the sacred sites of Parinche valley of Pune District of Maharashtra. Vartaket al., (1996) described sacred site as a sanctuary for lofty trees and lianasfrom Western Ghats.
Sharma and Kulkarni (1980) have given the floristiccomposition of Dev Raies (sacred forests) in Kolhapur district and havediscussed the peculiarities and importance of their preservation andconservation since these contain relict vegetation of once predominantevergreen or semi-evergreen type of vegetation. Samati and Gogoi (2007) havedescribed the sacred sites of Meghalaya. According to the forest departmentstate of Meghalaya, sacred forests cover an approximate area of 1000 sq.km inthe state. Biological and cultural diversity within the tribals communitiesassociated with the sacred forests of Meghalaya, 12 new sacred forests fromKhasi Hills were described by Tiwari et al., (1999). Vascular plants diversityin the three sacred forests of Jaintia Hills in northeast India described byJamir and Pandey (2003). About 108 families having 250 genera and 395 specieswere described from these forests.
There are numerous sacred forests along thehill ranges of Garo and Khasi hill districts (Brandis, 1897). The paper endswith a review of the value of traditional conservation mechanisms, such assacred forests, in a modern conserved area conservation system. Malhotra (1990)has discussed a distinction between safety forest patches and supply forestpatches in traditional land use practices of Mizoram. Jeeva (2005) has describedthe traditional knowledge and biodiversity conservation in the sacred forestsof Meghalaya.
In 1993, Chandran has described the sacred forests one of thefinest instances of traditional conservation practices. Chandran again (1997) selected Uttarakhannada and adjoining areas in Karnataka State towards the centre of SouthIndia’s West Coast for the studies of sacred sites. He described that thededication of the forests is to local deities who were not, and in many casesstill are not, the characteristic gods of Hindu devotion such as Ganapati, Shiva,Vishnu, Lakshmi, Parvati etc., but prebrahmin deities, mostly indistinct beingsthat may be represented an conically. Gokhale 2001, has described the Kanssacred sites in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. Conservationand management of sacred forests of Kodagu, Karnatakahas been done byKushalappa and Bhagwat (2001).
Chandrasekhar andSanker (1998) have studied the management and ecology of sacred forests inKerala. The three Kavu in Kerala such as S. N.Puram Kavu, Ollur Kavu, and Iringole Kavu were studied by them. Biodiversity and conservation potential of varioussacred forests were also studied in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, Visalakshi(1995), Cherrapunji and adjoining areas in North-Eastern India ( Khiewtam andRamakrishnan, 1989), Orans (sacred forests) of two villages-Peepasar andKhejarli in Nagaur and Jodhpur districts Jha et al., (1998), cultural aspectsof a sacred forest of Sitabari in Rajasthan Basin (1999). The landscape analysis of biodiversity management in a typical Shekhalavillage in Jodhpur district of Rajasthan and land use pattern, human and cattlepopulations in the village have also been provided by Singh and Saxena (1998).
Over 800 sacred forests in 23 districts of AndhraPradesh were recorded by WWF survey. The forestsaround the temple town of Tirupati are the home of several endemics. Villages in Baster have two kinds of sacred forests,namely, Devgudi and Gaondevi.
The Chhotanagpur part of the state showing the predominanceof Sarana or Jahera kind of sacred forests plotted all over the state (Patnaikand Pandey, 1998; Pandey, 2000). In Assam 40sacred forests were recorded from the Karbi and Anglong districts while in Haflongdistrict sacred forests of the Dimasa tribe are called Madaico (Deb, 1995). In ArunanchalPradesh the sacred forests are attached to Buddist monasteries called Gumpaforests areas (GFAS), which are managed by Larnas. InMizoram, Mizo tribals have safety reserves and supply reserves around theirvillages. These safety forests are a continuation of the sacred forests of theprechristian period. They also have bamboo reserves called mnwmund in Sailkalregion of northeastern mizoram (Malhotra, 1990; Gokhale et al., 1998).
Arora,2006 describe the Tholung sacred landscape of North Sikkim. In Himachal Pradesh, sacred forests are also knownas Dev Vans (Forests of Gods). The traditionally managed sacred forests werereported from Mandi, Shimla, Kullu, Lahaul and Spiti. Accordingto maps of forest Survey of India, in Lahaul and Spiti the forests are usefulin maintaining the natural source of water in adverse environmental conditions(Chhatre et al., 1998). Almost all the majordeities in the Uttarakhand and Himachal state have their own forests and hencethe state can be called as a land of deities (Sharma, 2000). In spite ofdocumentation and floristic diversity of sacred forest, many researchers havealso work on the ethnobotany of the important plants which are used by thelocal inhabitants to cure various diseases like leucorrhoea, urinary problem, headache,digestive problem, hepatic-disorder, brain tonic, bronchial problems, wounds, tonic,arthritis, asthma, etc.
, (Lebbie and Guries, 1995). Manyrare and threatened plants are also described from the different pockets ofsacred forests (Gadgil, 1995). A climbing legume Kunstleria keralensis reported from a sacred forest in Kerala,found only in that sacred forest (Mohanan and Nair, 1981). Belpharistemmamembranifolia, Buchanania lanceolataand Syzygium travuncoricum are rarespecies found only in some sacred forests of Kerala (Nair and Mohanan, 1995).Sukumaran and Raj (2008) have reported a rare and endangered medicinal plant Petiveria alliacea from the sacred forestsof Kanyakumari district in the southern Western Ghats, which was a new distributionalrecord for India.
2.1Sacred forest in Uttarakhand Priorityneeds to be given to strengthen cultural systems of conservation of naturalresources in Uttarakhand. Husain, et al.(2010) have described the floristic diversity of Haat Kali sacred grove fromGangolihat tehsil, in 2010 Singh, et al.(2010) have gave the importance ofethnobotanical plants and their conservation by taking example of Nakuleshwarand Thal Ke dhar sacred groves of Pithoragrah district. Agnihotri, et al. (2009),have documented Nakuleshwar sacred grove from Pithoragarh district.
There aremany tribal and non-tribal communities present in the district such as Bhotias,Tharus, Rajis, Boxa and non-tribal communities such as Bhandari, Bora, Chuphal,Rawal, etc. inhabit the area of Pithoragarh district. Sacred groves in KumaonHimalaya are rich in biodiversity and a number of groves are present in everyvillage or a group of few villages having own deity, often surrounded by aforest patch considered as sacred (Bisht and Ghildiyal, 2007). Earlier, reportson Nakuleshwar, Haat Kali, Malya Nath and Patal Bhuvenshwar sacred groves(Singh et al., 2010a, 2010b, 2011, 2012, 2013; Singh, 2011 and Upreti et al2017) limited their studies with conservation of biodiversity and someethnobotanical uses of plant species. In recent years, some important contributions on sacred groves ofUttarakhand have been made by many workers. Sinha and Maikhuri (1998) haveprovided a list of 22 sacred plant species in the Central Himalayan region, andreported results of a detailed study of Hariyali sacred grove in Chamolidistrict of Uttarakhand. The area of the sacred grove covered is about 5.
5 km2.Fifteen villages around Hariyali with 6,000 inhabitants of Brahmin, Rajput andScheduled castes participate in different rituals performed at the grove. Theygives detailed of the myth of Hariyali Devi, rituals, taboos and folklores,socio-economic and ecological role of the grove, as well as phytosociologicalattributes of the grove and none sacred forest.
Bisth and Ghildiyal (2007) havedescribed the role of sacred forests for biodiversity conservation in Himalayanregion of Uttarakhand. A preliminary floristic study at the Tarkeshwar sacredforest in Garhwal Himalaya (Pauri Garhwal district) have revealed that sacredforest have a rich plant biodiversity. Socio-cultural and ethnobotanical valuesof a sacred forest of Thal Kedhar in Central Himalaya of Kumaon were elaboratedby Negi (2005). He has described that the sacred forests of Thal kedhar harboursan important ethnobotanical plants which play enhances the floristic diversityof the forest.
Haat Kali sacred forest, Nakuleshwar and Thalkedar sacred sitesfrom Pithoragarh district, Uttarakhand reported by Singh et al., (2010). Rawal andDhar (2001) have described Chiplakedar sacred grove in Askot Wild lifeSanctuary, Pithoragarh district, Uttarakhand. Bisth and Ghildiyal (2007) havedescribed the role of sacred groves for biodiversity conservation inUttarakhand Himalaya. A preliminaryfloristic study at the Tarkeshwar sacred grove in Garhwal Himalaya (PauriGarhwal district) have revealed that this grove have a rich biodiversity.
Agrove represented about 343 species representing 256 genera from 107 families.Again, Ghildiyal et al., (2008) have worked on floristic account in Tarkeshwarsacred grove which is situated just besides Kotdwara-Rikhnikhal, Kotdwar. Thisis about 600 years old possesses 372 species of both flowering andnon-flowering plants.
Agnihotri et al.,(2009) have located Nakuleshwar sacred grove in Thal Kedar hills fromPithoragarh district at an altitude of 1530 m. Singh et al., (2010) have reported Haat Kali sacredgrove from Gangolihat, Pithoragarh district, Uttarakhand. Further ethnobotanicalstudies was done on Nakuleshwar and Thalkedar sacred groves by Singh et al.,2010. Finally, number of sacred groves are present in Pithoragrah district andare still to be explored from the area.
In recent years, some importantcontributions on sacred forests of Uttarakhand have been made by many workers.Sinha and Maikhuri (1998) have provided a list of 22 sacred plant species inthe Central Himalayan region, and reported results of a detailed study ofHariyali sacred forest in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Singh et al 2012 alsodescribed various sacred forests in pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand. They gives detailed of the rituals, taboos andfolklores, socio-economic and ecological role of the forest, as well asphytosociological attributes of the forest and none sacred forest.
There are some well known sacred forest patcheswhich truly represent the wealth of a religion based conservation traditions asreported by Adhikari and Adhikari (2007), Bisht et al. (2007), Anthwal et al.(2010), Angihotri et al. (2010 and 2012). It is very difficult to document theexact number of sacred sites in Uttarakhand, however, efforts made by someauthors like Sinha and Maikhuri (1998), Bisht et al. (2007) 32 sacred grovesand 128 sacred groves by Negi (2010). Various sacred dorests from gangolihaatwere also recorded by Gokhale et al.
(2011), Pala et al. (2012), Singh et al.(2010, 2011, 2012, 2013) and Upreti et al 2016, 2017. Socieoeconomic,ethnobotanical and religious studies of various sacred plants from groves weredone by various workers in kumaun region of Uttarakhand (Jain in 1991, Pande etal, in 2006, and Upreti al 2017). Singh 2011 also recorded religious plantsfrom haat kalika sacred grove, Hukra devi and other sacred groves fromPithoragarh district of Kumaun region.
The study was undertaken to document andgive its floristic diversity of important sacred groves of Pithoragarh districtfor the present research work.