Religion and Conservation Biology
Religion is a component of all cultures and frequently the guiding and controlling component through which societies legitimize themselves. Although not always obvious, religion is generally pervasive throughout cultures and is often the unifying principle of a society. Religions have played a substantial role in formulating views of nature and defining relationships of the roles of humanity in nature, thus, inextricably linking religious life and natural systems. It is increasingly recognized that religions can help make essential and substantial contributions to rethinking and responding to the world environmental crisis.
Religion and theology are “greening” and will continue to do so and the religious focus on the environment now appears to be an irreversible theme of theological inquiry and religious life. In this regard, there is an increasing call for growing cooperation between science and religion in addressing environmental issues. An understanding of religious concepts and how they are applied to governance and daily life is essential to the implementation of effective and lasting conservation management strategies. The knowledge of the activities and principles and practices of conservation biology is essential to those whose perspective is primarily informed by religion and theology.
The Religion and Conservation Biology Working Group is involved in helping to build bridges of information and understanding between these diverse but increasingly linked fields.
A new awareness is emerging among the world’s religions. Increasing numbers of individuals and organizations recognise that the moral responsibility to protect and conserve all life on Earth is integral to the teachings of their faiths. However, this trend has risen within a secular conservation framework that lacks a global structure for recognizing selfless acts of faith-based service to life on Earth. The Religion and Conservation Biology Working Group of the Society for Conservation Biology seeks to address this gap by creating the Assisi Award for conservation efforts that are motivated by religious faith. The name of the award celebrates a historical meeting held in Assisi, Italy, in 1986 on initiative of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and at that time President of WWF International. In that occasion, important declarations in favor of the environment were for the first time issued by leaders of all major world religions. The town of Assisi was chosen as the site of the event for its connection to St Francis, a saint ecumenically admired and respected also by non-Christians in virtue of his reverence for nature and tight bond with the natural world. Learn more about the award.