Sacred groves are patches of forests preserved for their spiritual and religious significance. The practice gained relevance with the spread of agriculture that caused large-scale deforestation affecting biodiversity and watersheds. Sacred groves may lose their prominence nowadays, but are still relevant in Indian rural landscapes inhabited by traditional communities. The recent rise of interest in this tradition encouraged scientific study that despite its pan-Indian distribution, focused on India’s northeast, Western Ghats and east coast either for their global/importance or unique ecosystems. Most studies focused on flora, mainly angiosperms, and the faunal studies concentrated on vertebrates while lower life forms were grossly neglected. Studies on ecosystem functioning are few although observations are available. Most studies attributed watershed protection values to sacred groves but hardly highlighted hydrological process or water yield in comparison with other land use types. The grove studies require diversification from a stereotyped path and must move towards creating credible scientific foundations for conservation. Documentation should continue in unexplored areas but more work is needed on basic ecological functions and ecosystem dynamics to strengthen planning for scientifically sound sacred grove management.
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Ray, R., Chandran, M.D.S. & Ramachandra, T.V. Biodiversity and ecological assessments of Indian sacred groves. Journal of Forestry Research 25, 21–28 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11676-014-0429-2
- ecosystem service
- sacred grove