Forests as Spiritually Significant Places: Nature, Culture and 'Belonging' in Australia

David Trigger, Jane Mulcock

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35 Citations (Scopus)


The spiritual significance of forests is explored, based on interviews with peopleinvolved in disputes that led to the signing of the Westem Australian RegionalForest Agreement (RFA) in 1999. Included are reflections from individualsinvolved in forestry, tourism, fanning, and in the environmental conservationmovement. Although the conflict between these groups has been emphasised inprevious accounts of the RFA process, this analysis focuses on points of similarity,namely, ideas about Australian attachments to land. A significant proportion ofinterviewees compared their own feelings of spiritual or sentimental connection tothe forests with the kind of attachments they thought Aboriginal Australians mighthave to their homelands. This leads us to consider feelings of belonging andattachment to place in relation to controversial debates about nature, culture andidentity in settler-descendant societies sueh as Australia. An understanding of suehdeeply held beliefs and values about land and identity provides insights intodisputes over natural resource management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306-320
JournalThe Australian Journal of Anthropology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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