Sacred Forests are Dr. Ormsby’s research focus, with publications linked below. These Forests are found in many cultures across the world, serving various purposes, spiritual and otherwise, and tend to be locations for shrines, meditation, and other ritualistic matters; One example being female circumcision, also described as female genital mutilation. Practiced in various African, Asian, and Middle Eastern cultures, this usually serves as a right of passage into adulthood, but is being recognized as a debate of human rights.

As the local communities typically oversee the forests and their maintenance, it becomes a uniquely protected, community driven, conservation space. Government involvement in these areas may threaten the amount of power the communities have over these Sacred Forests, which they have occupied for generations, but may also give space for women of these communities to obtain more bodily autonomy.

Dr. Ormsby is a mentor to many. Among offering her insight to the importance of mentorship, Ormsby presents a great deal of knowledge on building a professional career in the environmental sector, and has helped many of her current and former students gain hands-on experience, internships, and job opportunities. Always hopeful for the future, Ormsby has a way of encouraging the people around her to reach their highest potential.

About Dr. Alison Ormsby:

Dr. Alison Ormsby teaches Environmental Studies at the University of North Carolina Asheville and is a graduate mentor in Environmental Studies at Prescott College. She is a human ecologist with 25 years of experience working with people and protected areas, environmental education, and sacred natural sites. She has conducted research at sacred forests in Ghana, India, and Sierra Leone and at parks in Madagascar and Belize.  She is a member of the IUCN’s Specialist Group for Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas, and has numerous publications about her work, including in the books Asian Sacred Natural Sites, Philosophy and Practice in Protected Areas and Conservation (2016) among others.