Parliamentarians Push for Inventorying and Signposting Sacred Pre-Christian Sites ({{commentsTotal}})

In recent days, Parliament's natural shrines support group has been discussing ways of funding a development plan that calls for inventorying of the natural sites venerated by people from the pre-Christian era to today's neopagansists.

According to the development plan, 70 historical parishes would be included in the plan. Some 4,400 sites could be identified and 2,000 saved from direct threat of destruction, according to the document, which initiators hope will take effect in 2015, ETV reported on Wednesday.

Backers say the shrines could be considered humankind's oldest nature reserves and note that they served a variety of purposes, including spiritual ones. University of Tartu senior researcher Heiki Valk told ETV they are rare in Europe, and as a phenomenon are best-preserved in the Baltics. Valk said the main danger is that people will simply forget about them.

The oral histories and folk wisdom about such sites has not made a full leap into the digital world. Documentation of sacred groves, stones and other natural sites is in its infancy, with only eight of the country's 108 historical parishes exhaustively mapped.

Head of the Parliamentary support group Juku-Kalle Raid said the shrines could be integrated with tourism. "A proper inventory, signposting them, information displays, this is an area that foreign tourists will definitely be interested in."

Human development is, of course, a second major risk. Recent years have brought news of illegal logging in areas close to sacred groves. Specificaly, Raid says protection for such sites should be encoded in the Heritage Conservation Act.