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Chapter 2:  Review of Literature

Around the world, sacred forests represent a
traditional form of community conservation. There is a wide variation in the
size of sacred forests. Some of them are small fragments of forests, while
others are more extensive, spanning several hectares. These forests are
scattered all over the world. They have biological significance in relation to
the preservation of biodiversity of the world. Sacred forests have been
reported by different researchers from different parts of world like Bachmann
(1992) from West Africa, Molyneaux (1995) from Nigeria, Schaaf (1998) from
Ghanna, Zamam (1998) from Afghanistan, Withanage (1998) from Srilanka and
Gongorin (1998) from Mangolia. Priority needs to be given to strengthen
traditional systems of conservation of natural resources. Various research
Papers from India (Gadgil and Vartak 1975, 1976; Chandrakanth and Romm 1991;
Daniels et 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 for
biodiversity conservation. Numerous papers on the role of indigenous cultures
and beliefs in the sacred landscapes of southwest China have been published in
recent years (e.g., Li et al.,  1996; Pei and Luo 2000; Xie et al.,  2000; Zhang 2000). A study by Liu et al.,  (2002) demonstrates that restoration of holy
hills by Bai villagers in Xishuangbanna has increased plant biodiversity there.
Byers et al.,  (2001) show that sacred forests have persisted
longer than non-sacred forests in Zimbabwe, while Godbole (1996) found similar
results in India. These forests have widely been recorded from many pockets in
Asia and Africa (Frazer, 1980) also in Uganda the chieftaincy of the Wanyamwezi
and in central Tanzania eight sacred forests have been reported, representing
burial sites that varied from 6-300 years old, these were inventorized to
compare plant species richness and taxonomic diversity with those of forest
plots in a state managed forest reserve. Sacred forests in the Sierra Leone
were assessed for their value to local herbalists and traditional medicinal
practitioners of the Kppa Mende people. Herbalists (tufablaa) collecting in 23
sacred forests were interviewed regarding their knowledge 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, Abiriw sacred forest was introduced for showed
faunal species diversity and abundance, in the eastern region of Ghana. Bowe
(2009) has described the history of ancient Greece and mentioned about the
sacred forests present in the country. Traces of Hinduism still survive in the
Bali island of Indonesia. All temples, irrespective of size, are associated
with sacred forests. A forest at “Sangesh Holy Forest” in Bali is a spectacular
patch of tall and dense Dipterocarps. However, the size and quality have
declined over the years, mainly due to encroachments (Vannucci, 1995). Numerous
areas within this landscape are considered ‘sacred by the indigenous Tibetans
of the region. In India, these sacred forests exist under different names as
Sarna or Dev in Madhya Pradesh, Orans in Rajasthan, Sarnas in Bihar and Devrai
or Devrahati in Maharashtra. These forests occur in variety of habitats from
scrub forests of Thar desert, maintained by Bishnois, to rain forests of Kerala
in Western Ghats. Himanchal Pradesh in the North and of Kerala in the south is
specifically known for their large number of sacred forests. India has the
highest Concentration of sacred forests in the world. Estimates suggest that
there 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 so far, in 19 states. In south India,
about 2000 forests occur in Kerala (Rajendraprasad, 1995), 1600 in Maharashtra
(Deshmukh et al., , 1998), 800 in
Andhra Pradesh (Anon, 1998) and 448 in Tamil Nadu (Amrithlingam, 1998). Many
other researchers have also contributed to the addition of sacred forests in
India. Elwin, 1950; Risley, 1981; Vartak and Gadgil, 1981; Adhikari, 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 et al., , 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 sacred forests in India. Plant worship in India is very ancient.
Significantly, these plants are used in different ceremonies and their role in
festivals has been worked out (Bhatla et
al., , 1984). Cultural and ecological dimensions of sacred forests in India
were described by Malhotra et al., ,
(2001). Kumar (2009) has mentioned conservation strategies of biodiversity in
Konkan region of Coastal Maharashtra. Much work was done by various scientists
and practitioners on sacred forests in especially in the Northern and Western
parts. Kanyakumari District is one of the richest phytogeographical regions in
Tamil Nadu. Floristic work in the sacred forest in Pudukottai district was done
by Britto et al., , (2001). He
described about 176 genera and 260 species. Again, Britto et al., , (2001) presents the flora of a sacred forest in Vamban in
Pudukottai district, Tamil Nadu. The study area comprises of 63 families having
175 genera in and 224 species.  Ownership
of the forests and the belief of the people on local deities “living” inside
the forest are two decisive factors, which decide the conservation of the
sacred forests in Kerala. A total 761 sacred forests has described by
Induchoodan (1988, 1996) in the Western Ghats and the coastal plains of Kerala.
Surveys of sacred forests of Kerala by Ramachandran (1993) indicated rich
diversity of endemism in terms of biodiversity. These forests can be regarded
as the treasure houses of endemic and rare species (Chandrashekhara and Sanker,
1998). Sociobiological aspects of sacred forests of different ecological zones
of Tamil Nadu were investigated by Oliver et
al., , 1997. M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai (MSSRF), has
launched a community biodiversity Programme, which incorporates documentation
of the sacred forests in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu (Nanditha, 1996). Kalam
(1996) traces the way Devara Kadus sacred forests, in Kodagu district of
Karnataka, have been affected since the latter half of the last century.
Kushalappa and Bhagwat (2001) and Kushalappa (2001) have been working on
the conservation and management of sacred forests of Kodagu, Karnataka in South
India. In year 2003, Bhandari & Chandrashekar, worked in the sacred forests
of Dakshina Khannada and Udupi districts of Karnataka state. They have given a
list of some species of plants found in the sacred forests of Dakshina Kannada
and Udupi districts that are endemic to Peninsular India and Western Ghats of
India. The institution of sacred forests in the state is recognized by various
names 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 near
village Bijadihi Distt Orissa. Besides, a sacred pool in Orissa has also been
described. In all the studied villages, the communities, irrespective of
ethnicity, language, religion, age or gender observed traditional values and
have been ethnic in maintaining the biological and cultural integrity of the
sacred sites. Burman (1992) and Kumbhojkar (1996) have compared the social
significance of the sacred forests among the tribes of Mahastra such as Mahadeo
Kolis and the Kunbis. An inventory of the sacred forests of Devrais of the
Maharashtra was prepared and detailed information on the location, area and
associated deity is available for 233 forests from the districts of Thana,
Jalgaon, Kolaba, Satara, Pune, Kolhapur, Bhandara, Yewatmal, and Chandrapur
(Gadgil and Vartak, 1981). The ten sacred forests situated along the
North-Western Ghats in Maharashtra viz. Ajiwali, Baneshwar, Marleshwar,
Kassarde, Mangaon, Shirgaon, Rasape (Ramkhand), Taleran, Tungi and Tiwadi
representing various forest types, have been studied by Kosambi in 1962, Gadgil
& Vatak, 1973,  1981. In 1996,
Godbole, described the role of tribals in the preservation of sacred forests.
Documentation of the floristic diversity of sacred forests has been also done
by Bor (1942), Upadhyay et al., ,
(1987), Kumbhojkar, and Vartak (1988). Kulkarni et al., , (1993), Chandrakant (1997) has described importance in
relation to natural resource bases and cultural values in the sacred sites of
Parinche valley of Pune District of Maharashtra. Vartak et al., , (1996) described sacred site as a sanctuary for lofty
trees and lianas from Western Ghats. Sharma and Kulkarni (1980) have given the
floristic composition of Dev Raies (sacred forests) in Kolhapur district and
have discussed the peculiarities and importance of their preservation and
conservation since these contain relict vegetation of once predominant
evergreen or semi-evergreen type of vegetation. Samati and Gogoi (2007) have
described the sacred sites of Meghalaya. According to the forest department
state of Meghalaya, sacred forests cover an approximate area of 1000 in
the state. Biological and cultural diversity within the tribals communities
associated with the sacred forests of Meghalaya, 12 new sacred forests from
Khasi Hills were described by Tiwari et
al., , (1999). Vascular plants diversity in the three sacred forests of
Jaintia Hills in northeast India described by Jamir and Pandey (2003). About
108 families having 250 genera and 395 species were described from these
forests. There are numerous sacred forests along the hill ranges of Garo and
Khasi hill districts (Brandis, 1897). The paper ends with a review of the value
of traditional conservation mechanisms, such as sacred forests, in a modern
conserved area conservation system. Malhotra (1990) has discussed a distinction
between safety forest patches and supply forest patches in traditional land use
practices of Mizoram. Jeeva (2005) has described the traditional knowledge and
biodiversity conservation in the sacred forests of Meghalaya. In 1993, Chandran
has described the sacred forests one of the finest instances of traditional
conservation practices.  Chandran again
(1997) selected Uttara khannada and adjoining areas in Karnataka State towards
the centre of South India’s West Coast for the studies of sacred sites. He
described that the dedication of the forests is to local deities who were not,
and in many cases still are not, the characteristic gods of Hindu devotion such
as Ganapati, Shiva, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Parvati etc., but prebrahmin deities,
mostly indistinct beings that may be represented an conically. Gokhale 2001 has
described the Kans sacred sites in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. Conservation and management of sacred forests of
Kodagu, Karnataka has been done by Kushalappa and Bhagwat (2001). Chandrasekhar and Sanker (1998) have studied the
management and ecology of sacred forests in Kerala. 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 various sacred forests were also studied in Tamil
Nadu and Pondicherry, Visalakshi (1995), Cherrapunji and adjoining areas in
North-Eastern India ( Khiewtam and Ramakrishnan, 1989), Orans (sacred forests)
of two villages-Peepasar and Khejarli in Nagaur and Jodhpur districts Jha et al., , (1998), cultural aspects of a
sacred forest of Sitabari in Rajasthan Basin (1999). The
landscape analysis of biodiversity management in a typical Shekhala village in
Jodhpur district of Rajasthan and land use pattern, human and cattle
populations in the village have also been provided by Singh and Saxena (1998). Over 800 sacred forests in 23 districts of Andhra
Pradesh were recorded by WWF survey. The forests
around 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 showed the
predominance of Sarana or Jahera kind of sacred forests plotted all over the
state (Patnaik and Pandey, 1998; Pandey, 2000). In
Assam 40 sacred forests were recorded from the Karbi and Anglong districts while
in Haflong district sacred forests of the Dimasa tribe are called Madaico (Deb,
1995).  In
Arunanchal Pradesh, the sacred forests are attached to Buddhist monasteries
called Gumpa forests areas (GFAS), which are managed by Larnas. In Mizoram, Mizo tribals have safety reserves and
supply reserves around their villages. These safety forests are a continuation
of the sacred forests of the pre-Christian period. They also have bamboo
reserves called mnwmund in Sailkal region 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 known
as Dev Vans (Forests of Gods). The traditionally managed sacred forests were
reported from Mandi, Shimla, Kullu, Lahaul, and Spiti. According
to maps of forest Survey of India, in Lahaul and Spiti the forests are useful
in maintaining the natural source of water in adverse environmental conditions
(Chhatre et al., , 1998). Almost all the major deities in the Uttarakhand and
Himachal state have their own forests and hence the state can be called as a
land of deities (Sharma, 2000). In spite of documentation and floristic
diversity of sacred forest, many researchers have also work on the ethnobotany
of the important plants that are used by the local 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). Many
rare and threatened plants are also described from the different pockets of
sacred 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). Belpharistemma
membranifolia, Buchanania lanceolata,
and Syzygium travuncoricum are rare
species 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
forests of Kanyakumari district in the southern Western Ghats, which was a new
distributional record for India.

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Sacred forest in Uttarakhand

needs to be given to strengthen cultural systems of conservation of natural resources
in Uttarakhand.  Husain, et al.,  (2010) have described the floristic diversity
of Haat Kali sacred grove from Gangolihat tehsil, in 2010 Singh, et al., (2010) have gave the importance
of ethnobotanical plants and their conservation by taking example of
Nakuleshwar and Thal Kedar sacred groves of Pithoragarh district. Agnihotri, et al.,  (2009), have documented Nakuleshwar sacred
grove from Pithoragarh district. There are many 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 Kumaun Himalaya are rich
in biodiversity and a number of groves are present in every village or a group
of few villages having own deity, often surrounded by a forest patch considered
as sacred (Bisht and Ghildiyal, 2007). Earlier, reports on Nakuleshwar, Haat
Kali, Malya Nath, and Patal Bhuvaneshwar sacred groves (Singh et al., , 2010a, 2010b, 2011, 2012,
2013; Singh, 2011 and Upreti et al., , 2017)
limited their studies with conservation of biodiversity and some ethnobotanical
uses of plant species.   In recent years,
many workers have made some important contributions on sacred groves of
Uttarakhand. Sinha and Maikhuri (1998) have provided a list of 22 sacred plant
species in the Central Himalayan region, and reported results of a detailed
study of Hariyali sacred grove in Chamoli district 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, and Scheduled castes participate in
different rituals performed at the grove. They gives detailed of the myth of
Hariyali Devi, rituals, taboos and folklores, socio-economic and ecological
role of the grove, as well as phytosociological attributes of the grove and
none sacred forest. Bisht and Ghildiyal (2007) have described the role of
sacred forests for biodiversity conservation in Himalayan region of
Uttarakhand. A preliminary floristic study at the Tarkeshwar sacred forest in
Garhwal Himalaya (Pauri Garhwal district) has revealed that sacred forest has a
rich plant biodiversity. Socio-cultural and ethnobotanical values of a sacred
forest of Thal Kedar in Central Himalaya of Kumaun were elaborated by Negi
(2005). He has described that the sacred forests of Thal kedar harbours an
important ethnobotanical plants, which play, enhances the floristic diversity
of the forest. Haat Kali sacred forest, Nakuleshwar and Thal kedar sacred sites
from Pithoragarh district, Uttarakhand reported by Singh et al., , (2010).

 Rawal and
Dhar (2001) have described Chiplakedar sacred grove in Askot Wild life
Sanctuary, Pithoragarh district, Uttarakhand. Bisht and Ghildiyal (2007) have
described the role of sacred groves for biodiversity conservation in
Uttarakhand Himalaya.  A preliminary
floristic study at the Tarkeshwar sacred grove in Garhwal Himalaya (Pauri
Garhwal district) have revealed that this grove have a rich biodiversity. A
grove represented about 343 species representing 256 genera from 107 families.
Again, Ghildiyal et al., , (2008)
have worked on floristic account in Tarkeshwar sacred grove, which is situated
just besides Kotdwara-Rikhnikhal, Kotdwar. This is about 600 years old possesses
372 species of both flowering and non-flowering plants.  Agnihotri et
al., , (2009) have located Nakuleshwar sacred grove in Thal Kedar hills
from Pithoragarh district at an altitude of 1530 m. Singh  et al.,
, (2010) have reported Haat Kali sacred grove from Gangolihat, Pithoragarh
district, Uttarakhand. Singh et al., ,
2010, did further ethnobotanical studies on Nakuleshwar and Thal kedar sacred
groves. Finally, numbers of sacred groves are present in Pithoragarh district
and are still to be explored from the area. In recent years, some important
contributions on sacred forests of Uttarakhand have been made by many workers.
Sinha and Maikhuri (1998) have provided a list of 22 sacred plant species in
the Central Himalayan region, and reported results of a detailed study of
Hariyali sacred forest in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Singh et al., , 2012 also described various
sacred forests in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand. They
gives detailed of the rituals, taboos and folklores, socio-economic and
ecological role of the forest, as well as phytosociological attributes of the
forest and none sacred forest. There are
some well known sacred forest patches which truly represent the wealth of a
religion based conservation traditions as reported 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 the exact number of sacred sites in Uttarakhand, however, efforts made
by some authors like Sinha and Maikhuri (1998), Bisht et al.,  (2007) 32 sacred
groves and 128 sacred groves by Negi (2010). Gokhale et al.,  (2011), Pala et al.,  (2012), Singh et al.,  (2010, 2011, 2012,
and 2013) and Upreti et al., , 2016,
2017, also recorded various sacred forests from Gangolihaat. Socioeconomic, various
workers in Kumaun region of Uttarakhand (Jain in 1991, Pande et al, in 2006, and Upreti al 2017) did
ethnobotanical and religious studies of various sacred plants from groves.
Singh 2011 also recorded religious plants from Haat Kalika sacred grove, Hukra Devi
and other sacred groves from Pithoragarh district of Kumaun region. The study
was undertaken to document and give its floristic diversity of important sacred
groves of Pithoragarh district for the present research work. 

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