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ARC Home > Projects > Religious forests :
Visby: Faith and Forests | Faiths protect Forests: English press release | Visby Faith & Forest Meeting: Programme | Faith and Forests: Swedish press release

Visby Faith & Forest Meeting: Programme

Visby Cathedral


Hosted by the Swedish Lutheran Church with the support and assistance of the Shinto Shrines Association of Japan, and ARC. Link here for the press release in Swedish, and here for the press release in English.



* Informal Reception in the Bishop’s Garden (Buffet/Drinks) * Procession to the Cathedral * Opening Ceremony in Visby Cathedral to be followed by brief presentations and meditations from the faith groups on their theological understanding of forests and of the human role in looking after them.

Tuesday 28th August: THE PRESENT SITUATION

1. SESSION ONE: Introduction to the main issues. The purpose of this session is to give an idea of the scale, integrity and intensity of commercial (or potentially commercial) forest ownership by faiths.

2. SESSION TWO. What is a Forest For? Reflections from the Secular World. The purpose of this session is to explore how different secular groups have different ideas of what a forest is for. Is it an asset? A sustainable place? An example for others? A place for recreation and meditation? A Solution to climate change? A home… The session is also a chance to see what the secular world can offer to this debate – through, for example, the experience of developing FSC’s management guidelines. Participants will have, in advance, materials about FSC and alternative forest management guidelines.


3. SESSION THREE. Sacred Forests are remnants of the past: but what are they today? After Session Two’s discussion of the secular experience of creating ecologically-sensitive management, the aim of this session is to see how the sense of sacred has infused decisions about how to look after faith-owned forests in the past, and to explore how this sense of “specialness” and sacredness is relevant to management decisions being made today and in the future – both with commercial forests and sacred groves.

SESSION FOUR: Models of partnership, models for the future. The aim of this session is to look at existing projects in which faith-owned forests are being managed with a contemporary environmental awareness. And to see the problems, challenges, successes of these. This is a session of stories – and of creative thinking.


Bishop Lennart Koskinen: Bishop both of Visby and of the Church of Sweden overseas
Formal Dinner. – In the Bishops Garden

Wednesday 29th August: THE FUTURE


SESSION FIVE: Creating, defining and developing faith-protected forest environments. The intention of this session is to begin creating the criteria and enlisting support for the growing movement to declare faith protected environments. Its aim is to help protect such environments, outline core principles and to call on international bodies to recognise sacred sites.

SESSION SIX: Draft proposals for a Religious FSC Standard.


SESSION SEVEN: On the road to Ise 2013 (Finalizing the next steps forward).

Public Session in the Cathedral to continue discussions, and announce developments and proposals arising from the Gathering. Members of the press are welcome.


Shinto Ceremony of Blessing.

Thursday 30th August: Departures

Optional tour of the island of Gotland including sights of historical and ecological significance and some of the Church of Sweden’s FSC certified forests.

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