[posted on 06 October 2008]


The Delos Initiative during 2005-2008

The following report summarises the progress achieved since the establishment of the Delos Initiative:

 Activities during 2005 

1. Presentation of the Delos Initiative at the International Symposium on ‘Conserving Cultural and Biological Diversity: The Role of Sacred Natural Sites and Cultural Landscapes’. This important event was organised in Tokyo from 30 May to 2 June 2005 by UNESCO, the United Nations University and IUCN.

2. Presentation of the Delos Initiative at the European Nature Conference, held in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, on 21-25 September 2005. This was the first time that Eurosite and the Europarc Federation organised a joint annual conference in Europe.

3. Preparation of a project pilot entitled ‘Delos1: Significance of pilot sacred natural sites in technologically developed countries’, after a broad consultation among the Steering Group members and other experts. The proposal was submitted for funding to potential donors.

4. Preparation of a questionnaire for site analysis to be completed through interviews with local personalities in each site, both secular and religious.

5. Application of the questionnaire in two pilot sites, after in situ missions and interviews with various stakeholders:

- in Meteora, Greece, a magnificent natural area with monasteries built on natural megaliths;

- in Catalonia, Spain, the sacred mountain of Montserrat with its famous monastery.

6. Contacts established for the inclusion of additional sites in the pilot plan in Europe, North America and Japan.

7. Preliminary contacts for the preparation of the workshop in 2006 at the monastery of Montserrat, nested in the holy mountain of Montserrat (a Natural Park and Nature Reserve), Catalonia, Spain, including the search for potential donors.


8. Participation in he 11th Conference of the Spanish Section of the Europarc Federation in Cangas de Narcea, Asturias, Spain, 8-12 of June 2005. Four recommendations were adopted by the assembly:


     - Inclusion of a new section devoted to non material values in the Action Plan for Protected Areas of Spain, during the evaluation process, within the framework of the existing cooperation agreement between Europarc Federation and IUCN. To that end, promotion of a workshop or seminar to define its content and methodology.


       - Promotion of the identification of non material values of nature, both cultural and spiritual, and their adequate inclusion in the management plans of protected areas.


    - Promotion of the acknowledgment of relationship between local population and visitors and maintenance of traditional activities as essential elements of the conservation of biodiversity.


      - Promotion of the inclusion of educational policies in the management of protected areas with specific programs, aimed at young people, related to non material values of nature in a didactic manner.


       - Support of the Delos Initiative, and facilitation of the development of its case-studies in Spain from the Technical Office of Europarc-Spain.



Activities during 2006

1. Identification of additional pilot sites and on-site investigation through an improved questionnaire.

2. Preparation of consolidated reports on the natural sacred sites analysed.

3. Preparation and organisation of the 1st Delos Workshop in the Montserrat Monastery in Catalonia 23-26 November 2006 and first substantial conclusions from the work carried out on the pilot sites, which led to the Montserrat Statement. The workshop secretariat was undertaken by Silene Association and was funded by the Board of the Mountain of Montserrat, the Ministry for the Environment and Housing of Catalonia, and the Fundació Territori i Paisatge of Caixa Catalunya Savings Bank.

4. Preparation of the publication of the proceedings of the Montserrat workshop with the same sponsors of the workshop.

5. Presentation of the Delos Initiative at the 12th Conference of the Spanish State Section of Europarc, with more than 180 participants, representing agencies in charge of protected areas from 15 different Autonomous Communities and the Central Government of Spain. The opening session was devoted to the presentation of the results of the performance evaluation of the Action Plan for the Protected Areas of Spain during 2002-2005. One of the conclusions of this evaluation, which was approved by the Assembly, was the need for revising and updating the Action Plan in order to include, among other items, the spiritual and cultural values of protected areas, both at the planning and management levels.



Activities during 2007


1. Publication and dissemination of the Montserrat Workshop proceedings by IUCN and the Abbey of Montserrat.


2. Work on the Delos contribution to the UNESCO / IUCN draft Guidelines for sacred natural sites.


3. Identification of additional members of the work group, and new, representative case studies from other countries, religions, faiths, and Protected Areas types, and preparation of relevant reports.


4. Participation at several international conferences and events, such as the 2007 IUCN Almeria Summit on IUCN categories of Protected Areas, Spain, the 2007 3S Conference in Cambridge, United Kingdom.


5. Preparation and organisation of the Delos2 Workshop, in Ouranoupolis, Halkidiki, Greece, on 24-28 October 2007, including identification of additional case studies and funding sources. It was attended by participants from 11 countries and 12 case-studies were presented. The theme of the workshop was to ‘provide guidance for sacred natural sites in developed countries’. The workshop secretariat was undertaken by Med-INA (the Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos) and was funded by Med-INA with the support of the A.G. Leventis Foundation.


Activities during 2008

1. Preparation of the Delos2 Proceedings. The volume, which will be a joint publication of IUCN and Med-INA, will be in press in early 2009.

2. Contribution to the preparation and participation in the World Conservation Congress of IUCN: knowledge café, presentations in the TF alliance workshop, poster and field trips.

3. After invitation of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs of Morocco -on the initiative of Delos working group member Zakia Zouanat- assessment and recommendations by Gonzalo Oviedo and Josep-Maria Mallarach for the shrine of Moulay ‘Abd al-Salâm ibn Mashîsh, in Jabal La’lâm, Site of Biological and Ecological Interest of Jbel Bouhachem. Integration of SNS status in the protected area policy of Morocco,

4. Participation in the WCPA Durban +5 meeting in cape Town, South-Africa.

5. Participation in the International workshop of the Task Force on Protected Landscape, North York Moors National Park, England presenting the Delos Initiative approach and methodology.

6. Participation in the 2008 First Conference of Carpathian Network of Protected Areas and the Europarc Congress, held in Poiana Brasov, Transylvania, Romania, leading a workshop on the integration of intangible cultural heritage of protected areas, contributing to the mid-term work plan of the Carpathians Convention.

7. Participation in the Europarc Congress, held in Poiana Brasov, Transylvania, Romania, leading a workshop regarding the Delos Initiative methodology.

8. Presentation of the Sacred Natural Site concept, the Delos Initiative, and the particular application of the SNS concept in Vanatori-Neamt Natural Park by  Razvan Deju,  on the 22nd of May, during a national meeting in Bucharest, in the context of the European Day of Parks. The Management Plan of the Vanatori-Neamt Natural Park had already adopted the Sacred Natural Site concept in 2007. The Management Plan of the Buila Vanturarita Natural Park, is currently being finalised, making it the second Romanian site following its example. Both Natural Parks are case studies of The Delos Initiative.

9. Collaboration on the elaboration of the Volume on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Landscapes, edited by Josep-Maria Mallarach. It includes sixteen case studies from all over the world, of which four come from the Delos Initiative network. Seven authors of chapters are members of the Delos working group. Three of the four Editorial Advisory team members of this volume are members of the Task Force of Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas: Rob Wild, Thymio Papayannis and Fausto Sarmiento