Sacred Forests of the villages of Zagori and Konitsa

The sacred forests of Zagori and Konitsa are sites where chopping trees is forbidden and where it is feared that cutting down their branches can result in supernatural punishments. In most cases, sacred forests are not church property but communal or public land. Even so, the inhabitants of the communities recognise the Church as their customary manager.

The communities look after sacred forests as protected areas. Collective representations define them as places of special importance for the local communities, which associate them with the local history and landscape. They are often related to the natural resources that the community conserves, because they are important for its survival. Even more often, they are forests that protect the villages from natural disaster. Some sacred forests are not directly connected to the churches or other religious buildings that can be found inside them. Yet there are others that contain within their territory churches, chapels and shrines that have a religious purpose. These forests are preserved as the inhabitants of the local communities avoid utilising them for fear of being punished by supernatural powers. Today, such parts of the planet are classified as Sacred Natural Sites, which are defined as sites of special spiritual significance for their local communities as well as sites of special bio-cultural value, globally important both for cultural diversity and biodiversity, particularly because of the natural organisms associated with the ancient trees and forests.

This element was inscribed on the National Inventory of Intangilbe Cultural Heritage in 2014.

Description of the element: Sacred Forests of the villages of Zagori and Konitsa