Bhutan’s conservation network

Geographical location:

Asia/Pacific > Southern Asia > Bhutan

The village of Ura shining with CGI roofs. Bhutan.
© WWF Bhutan

Summary

Bhutan’s Biological Conservation Complex is a network of national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, nature reserves and biological corridors covering 14,80km2, or 35% of the country. This conservation complex allows tigers, snow leopards, rhinos and other wildlife to migrate between protected areas.

WWF is working with the government of Bhutan and other partners to manage the complex. Joint projects address a number of conservation threats, including deforestation, poaching, overgrazing and human-wildlife conflict.

Background

The B2C2 landscape (9 protected areas and corridors) has human settlemnts in it. Depletion of forest resources in and around the settlements is a major concern against the biodiversity conservation agenda.

The various issues that project will address include:
1. Human-wildlife conflicts.
2. Excessive extraction of timber and fuel wood.
3. Overgrazing of forest by livestock.
4. Poverty.
5. Illegal trade and poaching.
6. Unsustainable collection of biological resources.
7. Limited institutional capacity to carry out biodiversity conservation initiatives.
6. Inadequate transboundary cooperation.
7. Direct threat to some wildlife species (snow leopard, Asian elephants and white-bellied heron).

Objectives

Overall objective

Conservation and management of the natural biodiversity of B2C2, in harmony with people’s values and aspiration.

Specific objectives

1. Reduce livestock grazing pressure.

2. Reduce consumption of timber and fuel wood.

3. Enhance linkage between sustainable livelihoods and biodiversity conservation.

4. Conserve important species (snow leopard, Asian elephants and white-bellied heron) and their ecosystems.

5. Strengthen WWF and its partners.

6. Enhance transboundary cooperation.

Solution

Human-wildlife conflict/poverty/overgrazing

- By providing livestock intensification package such as improved breed of cattle, pasture development and livestock product processing and marketing. This is anticipated to reduce the livestock population and resulting human-wildlife conflicts.

- Furthermore, the project is also trying to quantify the gravity of overgrazing on the forest through desktop research and case studies on grazing. The information so generated will be used to inform stakeholders (policy and decision makers, conservationists and communities) to draw necessary measures to mitigate threats of overgrazing.

Excessive extraction of timber and fuelwood

- Alternative energy technology is introduced and demonstrated with the high-end resource users. E.g. bulk electric cookers to subsitute traditional fuel wood cookers at the various government institutions (armed forces, schools, monk bodies, etc).

- Also subsitution of the wooden shingleps by corrugated galvanized iron (CGI) roofing at household level is anticipated to save trees. A household with CGI sheets will not cut tree for shingleps for at least 20 years. In the process the household also will save time, which can be used for some other productive purposes. Currently villagers cut trees and prepare shingleps to roof their houses.

Unsustainable collection of biological resources

- Collaboration with the Forestry Resources Development Division (FRDD) of the Royal Goverment to design non-timber forest products (NTFPs) inventory methods and guidelines for sustainable harvesting.

Institutional capacity

- Support the Department of Tourism of the Royal Government to develop a calibre of professional ecotourism guides to promote ecotourism initiatives.

- Support the Royal Manas National Park (RMNP) to upgrade the skill and knowledge of the staff to carry out effective patrolling and anti-poaching works.

Ilegal trade and poaching linked with transboundry issues

- Organize and facilitate transboundary meetings between the Bhutanese and Indian cross-boarder counterparts to facilitate common understanding on illegal trade and poaching and draw up regulatory measures.

Direct threats to wildlife species

- Conduct athreatened animals' status including demographic, distribution and ecological studies in collaboration with the Nature Conservation Division of the Royal Government.

Achievement

Human-wildlife conflict/poverty/overgrazing

- A case study on migratoring livestock grazing completed for the Eastern and the Western region of the country.

- A preliminary discussion with the Renewable Natural Resources Research Centre Jakar completed for carrying out the desktop research on livestock grazing and establish the gravity of grazing issues.

Excessive extraction of timber and fuelwood

- 2 sets of bulk electric cooker installed, one at the Natural Resources Training Institute and another at the armed forces. Preliminary assessment of impact of alternative energy technology revealed that a set of cookers can save about 48 trees and 60% of the institute's revenue annually.

- In 2006, one more set of bulk electric cooker and one set of bulk rice cooker were installed in the National Institute of Education (NIE) in Samtse, Anim Dratshang and Thimphu respectively. The monitoring of performance of cookers is on-going.

- Also in 2006, Singneer, a village with 32 households was supported with CGI roofings. The timber consumption for house roofing is being monitored.

Unsustainable collection of biological resources

- A preliminary discussion with the Forestry Resources Development Division (FRDD) of the Royal Goverment completed. A three-year project design is underway.

- A project grant agreement was signed in January 2006 with the Royal Government to prepare a national guideline for sustainable harvesting of the NTFPs and the buiding up of the NTFP database at FRDD.

- A review and analysis of the status and potential of NTFPs in Bhutan is completed in June 2006 with a assistance of an external consultant.

Institutional capacity

- Grant agreement signed with the Department of Tourism to develop 35 professional ecotourism guides. Out of 35 trainees trained, 23 trainees were awarded certificates by the Department of Tourism of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

- Support to the Royal Manas National Park extended to upgrade the skill and knowledge of the staff to carry out effective patrolling and anti-poaching works.

- Geographical Information Systems (GIS) capability of WWF Bhutan upgraded. Mr Echay Kumar, GIS staff, was sent on training to the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) to learn advanced remote sensing. Necessary hardware such as digitizer, laptop and other assessories were procured for the WWF GIS lab. Also latest satellite imageries (1995) were procured.

- The Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) staff attended a three-week training on Participatory Monitoring in Cavite Manial Philippines on 13-31 March 2006. According to RSPN the training has significantly enhanced their capacity to manage community-based projects.

Ilegal trade and poaching linked with transboundary issues

- Discussion to organize transboundary meetings underway with the Nature Conservation Division (NCD) of the Royal Government.

- More than 50 inspectors from the Bhutan Food and Agriculture Regulatory Authority (BFARA) were trained on Plant Health and Endangered Species to effectively supervise and control the potential illegal trade in Indo-Bhutan borders. The inspectors were educated in identification of wildlife parts and products, nature conservation rules (2000) and law enforcements thereof.

Direct threats to wildlife species

- A 3-year grant agreement already signed with the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) to conduct status study on the white-bellied heron in Bhutan.

- In 2005-2006, 2 rounds of white-bellied heron population and habitat surveys completed covering the Eastcentral, Westcentral and the Western parts of Bhutan. In total 15 birds were recorded including 2 juveniles in Spring 2005.

- A project grant agreement was signed with the Royal Government in 2006 to assess the population and habitat status of the snow leopard. Action plan for the conservation of snow leopards will be developed at the end of the project.

- More than 20 forestry field staff from the territorial division and parks were trained on MIKE methods on the Asian elephant survey and use of GPS in early 2006.

- Summer season survey of elephant population, habitat and migratory pattern completed. The survey report is anticipated to be out by end of June 2006.

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