Wednesday 3 March, 04:00 – 05:30 pm, Zijing A

Montane landscapes foster diversity of many kinds. The same physical features—steepness, ruggedness, ridges and valleys—are used to explain apparently unrelated orders of diversity such as plant species diversity or linguistic diversity. In some cases there is a clear causal connection between the orders of diversity; for example, transhumant pastoralist paths are complex anthropogenic ecosystems that involve animal dung both as fertilizer and as transport for seeds, the creation of ecotones around temporary pastures, the deliberate cultivation of ethno-veterinary herbs along the route, the creation of watering holes, and so on. The more culturally diverse the transhumant route is—the more it is shared among different communities—the more diverse the anthropogenic drivers of ecosystem diversity will be. At the same time, the biodiversity of the entire transhumant gradient supports cultural diversity, with both sacred sites and pilgrimage routes contributing to cultural exchange and the transmission of indigenous ecological knowledge.

These sacred landscapes have been shaped and maintained over generations, many are ancient with roots in antiquity and even pre-history. They are always shared, whether among lineages, ethnic groups, or across major religious traditions. They are sites where differences at a finer scale are made possible through participation in a shared landscape. As the scale of sharing increases, so too does the complexity of overlapping eco-social processes. The resulting diversity is measurable as linguistic, ritual, and taxonomic richness, but it cannot be encompassed by any single epistemology.

In this panel, we will explore the links between social and biological diversity in sacred montane environments around the world. We invite contributions that analyse particular cases, large-scale comparisons, historical studies, and speculative studies that explore how the eco-social processes within sacred montane landscapes offer a model for the conservation of both culture and biological diversity, and for the Anthropocene in general.

Chair: Shengji Pei (KIB) and Yuming Yang (Yunnan Academy of Forestry Sciences)


  • Shengji Pei (KIB): Sacred landscape conservation initiative in Yunnan
  • Irena Zhernosenko Irina (Uch Enmek Nature Park)
  • Mamyev Daniel (Uch Enmek Nature Park)
  • Zhaoli Yan (Chengdu Institute of Biology): Mt. Kailash sacred landscape
  • Yuming Yang (Yunnan Academy of Forestry Sciences): Linking culture and biodiversity for conservation
  • Robert Zomer (ICRAF): A role for sacred landscapes in the mountains of the Anthropocene

Rapporteur: Yongping Yang