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Protected spring and sacred forest institutions at the instrumental — relational value interface

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Dependable supplies of clean water, as provided by springs, have attracted human settlements inducing the emergence of local institutions to protect water sources as a common good, often along with surrounding forests or tree cover. Instrumental values of nature as a source of clean water used to be embedded in relational values of sacred forests that implied norms of behavior and sanctions to be feared. The balance between private, communal, and public rights and obligations with regard to clean water access has shifted along with historical development across the world. The mechanistic understanding of springs as part of the full hydrological cycle shifted emphasis from springs as such toward source areas and belowground flows in the wider landscape. Rediscovered relational values of respect for the natural water cycle can synergize with the instrumental values of minimizing negative human impact on water cycles, as part of a bold water action agenda.

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