Sacred Groves

  • Sacred Groves are the area of “natural” vegetation preserved through local taboos and sanctions that entail spiritual and ecological values. The ecological values are found in the traditional association of the sacred groves with wildlife and physical landscapes such as streams.

Types of Sacred Groves

Based on the deities, cultural, and religious importance, and their association.
1. Temple Groves: These groves are associated with temples due to their religious importance; generally, they are protected by the government, the temple trust, or village committees.
2. Traditional Sacred Groves: These are the places where the folk deities reside. They often contain a rich variety of plant and animal life.
3. Religious Groves: Where they are associated with Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islamism, and Sikhism.
4. Island Groves: Island groves can be categorized based on the habitat type-specific ecological importance, for example, mangroves and coastal/reverie areas in Andhra Pradesh.
5. Burial/Cremation/Memorial Groves: They are associated with burial places. These are seen as places of reverence for the deceased and are believed to be inhabited by the spirits of ancestors.

Significance of Sacred Groves

1. Protection of Ecosystems: They often serve as protected areas, safeguarding biodiversity by restricting
human activities that can harm the environment.
2. Traditional Knowledge: Local communities that manage sacred groves often possess a deep understanding of the local ecology and traditional practices that have been passed down through generations.
3. Biodiversity Conservation: They can act as a refuge for a wide range of plant and animal species, especially in areas where habitat loss is a major threat.
4. Cultural Preservation: They are important repositories of cultural and religious practices of local communities.
5. Community Empowerment: They are often managed by local communities.
6. Environmental Benefits: They play a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance of an area.
7. Community Conservation: It is protecting biodiversity, preserving natural resources, and managing natural resources sustainably for future preservation.

Biodiversity Heritage Site

  • It is a unique conservation approach recognized under Section 37 (1) of the Biological Diversity Act, of 2002. Under this, the State Government may, from time to time, in consultation with the local bodies, notify the official Gazette of areas of biodiversity importance as Biodiversity Heritage Sites. So far, 44 Biodiversity Heritage Sites have been notified by 16 states.


Sacred Groves have been legally protected under the Community Reserves in the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 2002 but, in the modern era, the groves are facing serious threat due to:

  • Habitat loss
  • Climatic change
  • Global warming
  • Invasive/ Alien species
  • Other challenges such as Anthropogenic pressure, encroachment, deforestation, cultural degradation, pollution, and no proper legislation, etc.


  • Sacred groves have been legally protected under community reserves under the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 2002.
  • These are the best examples of community conservation and unique sources for in-situ conservation but in the the modern era, the groves are facing serious threats due to rapid urbanization, cultural shifting, anthropogenic pressure, global warming, climatic change, etc, leading to the rapid erosion of the sacred groves, their ecology, floral & faunal compositions, and sociocultural significance.