Sacred natural sites are defined as “areas of land or water having special spiritual significance to peoples and communities”, some of which are found within World Heritage areas. While some recognition is often in place, rights dimensions are often contested. In Guatemala, for example, the Tikal National Park and World Heritage site management continues to be contested by indigenous Maya and their spiritual leaders for their lack of effective involvement. They ultimately seek to control management of the sacred sites in the area. Failing to recognise the rights-dimension of socio-cultural significance can exacerbate misunderstandings, and jeopardize effective management.
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