Protecting the Environment through Cultural Traditions: Sacred Groves of Sierra Leone and India, an exhibit of photographs by Alison Ormsby of the UNC Asheville environmental studies faculty, will be on view January 11 – February 26, in Blowers Gallery, in UNC Asheville’s Ramsey Library. An opening artist lecture will be held in the library’s Whitman Room at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19, followed by a reception in the gallery.
Ormsby’s exhibit showcases photographs taken during her field research at sacred groves in India and Sierra Leone. Sacred groves are small, forested areas that are locally protected for their cultural and spiritual significance. These forests are conserved for numerous reasons, including traditional rituals and ceremonies, burial grounds, and ecosystem services such as watershed value. Cultural management of these groves helps promote conservation and preserve the area’s biodiversity.
Ormsby, now an adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies at UNC Asheville, first became interested in sacred sites as a Peace Corps volunteer 20 years ago. She has authored book chapters on sacred forests of Ghana in two books: Sacred Natural Sites: Conserving Nature and Culture (Routledge, 2010) and Sacred Species and Sites: Advances in Biocultural Conservation (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and has a forthcoming chapter on sacred World Heritage Sites in the book Asian Sacred Natural Sites (Routledge, 2016).
The exhibit and reception are free and open to the public; the photographs will be on view in the Blowers Gallery during regular library hours. For more information, visit library.unca.edu or call 828.251.6436.