Uluru was the place to start our journey to the World Parks Congress. I questioned our Aboriginal guides and it turns out they don't consider the whole rock to be sacred, but many storied ceremonial sites around it are. I asked if they felt that public education about sacred sites had been helpful and learned that the community feels it was a mistake to go public in the 1970s with details about sacred places. Now they want to keep cultural information private. Photography in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is strictly controlled. Sacred ceremonial sites are clearly marked and visitors are asked to respect cultural law and refrain from photographing nine sacred sites. Danil Mamyev, founder of Uch Enmek Nature Park in the Altai Republic of Russia, visited Uluru with me. Danil asked the local Aboriginal Traditional Owners if he could perform a ceremony to greet the spirits of the place and connect Uluru to the sacred Uch Enmek Mountain back in Altai. Traditional owners and rangers observed Danil's ritual with great interest. Danil and Johnny, one of the traditional owners. My best photo from the sunset viewing area, with my back to Uluru. At the World Parks Congress screening of Islands of Sanctuary, Dean Yibarbuk, senior fire ecologist at Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area, who is interviewed in the film, along with his new friend Danil Mamyev. Thirteen-year old Sliammon First Nation leader Ta'kaiya Blaney sang her anthem Earth Revolution before our screening of Islands of Sanctuary. At a meeting earlier in the day when we were discussing youth, technology and disconnection from nature, Ta'kaiya said: "It's not just what land will we leave for our children, but what children will we leave for our land." Along with Liz Hosken and Fiona Wilton of Gaia Foundation and Gleb Raygorodetsky of United Nations Univ. we organized two afternoon sessions on Sacred Natural Sites at the World Parks Congress. IUCN has recognized sacred landscapes as “the original protected areas” and indigenous people are asserting their rights to define, access and manage these special places. Photo by Daniel Banuoku, Centre for Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Ghana. Sabella Kaguna, at far right, is a community leader from Tharaka, east of Mount Kenya. She brought women together to revive traditional seeds and agro-ecology customs and restore sacred natural sites. Recently, custodians of 16 sites came together to start a process of eco-cultural mapping of their territory along the Kathita River. Translating for Sabella was Simon Mitambo, Program Coordinator for the African Biodiversity Network. Photo by Daniel Banuoku. Danil Mamyev made several presentations on Uch Enmek Nature Park, focusing on the unusual scientific properties of the Karakol Valley and the important kurgan burial sites there. Check out Danil's geology graphic in the next slide... Two Karakol Valley kurgans. At left is the naturally occuring magnetic iron deposit beneath an intact kurgan, which local people enhanced by adding magnetically charged rocks to the circular burial of an ancient hero. At right is a kurgan dug and emptied by Russian archaeologists. Danil is working with scientists to measure the healing properties of intact kurgans and with shaman to interpret the information that Altaians believe is stored in the magnetic field. Danil Mamyev, Oussou Lio Appolinaire from Benin in West Africa, Aboriginal elder Patrick Dodson, Northern Land Council director Joe Morrison and Toby McLeod. A working group dedicated to revolutionizing education, from left, Jessica Brown, Buyanbadrakh the Mongolian shaman, his translator Alten, Erjen Khamaganova of The Christensen Fund, Danil Mamyev and Toby McLeod. From my Powerpoint presentation on designating No Go Areas where mining is prohibited. Why is protection of sacred lands important? According to the World Bank, indigenous people comprise 4% of the world population, control 12% of the earth's land surface, and on that land is 80% of the remaining biodiversity—and crucial to every indigenous territory is a network of sacred places that holds the world together. In Madang, Papua New Guinea, Bismark Ramu Group organizer Rosa Koian leads a spirited discussion after a screening of Profit and Loss. Two entire school classes attended. No one left the room for four hours. Bosmun villagers traveled eight hours to come to the screening. Bosmun men say goodbye as they head back to the Ramu River. On the remote Rai Coast of Papua New Guinea, China Metallurgical Corporation's new nickel refinery dumps sulphur into the air and mine tailings into the sea—as seen from Mindere village. In the village of Mindere, garden plants are showing signs of stress and burning from air pollution. The children of Mindere wait for a town meeting to start. Mindere villagers are sending a strong message of discontent to the Papua New Guinea Mining and Petroleum Conference, which convenes in Sydney, Australia, in early December: "Stop leasing, drilling and mining our land!" Children swimming in Basamuk Bay, where China Metallurgical Corporation is now dumping mine waste tailings from their new nickel/cobalt refinery. The view from Mindere village across Basamuk Bay in Papua New Guinea.