Declaration of Wangchuck Centennial National Park

Geographical location:

Asia/Pacific > Southern Asia > Bhutan

Asia/Pacific > Southern Asia > Bhutan > Black Mountain National Park

Summary

The project will provide assistance to the Royal Government of Bhutan in its declaration of a 3,700km2 area as Centennial park in October 2008.

The park falls within the temperate and alpine ecosystems of northern Bhutan. The project will carry out surveys on biodiversity, people’s socio-economic status and other geographical features. It will analyse information and develop a strategic action plan and also prepare a video documentary.

Background

The proposed park is located between Jigme Dorji National Park (the largest park) and Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary, and falls within the temperate and alpine ecosystems of northern Bhutan. It is also part of the Eastern Himalayan ecoregion (as identified by WWF’s Global ecosystem classification) that runs horizontally to Kunchenjunga landscape in the west and the North Bank landscape in the east. The area has some of the highest mountain peaks associated with unique fauna and flora and other typical physical features.

It is an important natural conservatory of glaciers, alpine meadows and scrublands, subalpine and temperate conifer forests, major rivers and streams, and the flora and fauna which inhabit these ecosystems . The proposed park also harbours many species of wildlife which are endangered or extinct elsewhere in the world. These include the takin (Budorcas taxicolor) snow leopard (Uncia uncial), blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur), musk deer (Moschus chrysogaster), Himalayan black bear (Ursus thebatenus), marmots (Marmota himalayana), red panda (Ailurus fulgens), tiger (Panthera tigris) and several species of pheasants. Several wild flowering and medicinal plants are also reported in the area.

The Biodiversity Action Plan of 2001 clearly reflects the need to conserve Durtsachu in Bumthang, which falls within the proposed area because of features such as the hot spring, its geology and scenic beauty. Of the 6 conservation areas in Bhutan, only Phobjikha, which is a black-necked crane habitat and the buffer zone of Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, has been exposed to conservation initiatives.

Two major sub-basins of Mangde chhu and Chamkhar chhu originate from the proposed protected areas. These 2 rivers form the Manas River. The Mangde chu sub-basin has 521 identified lakes. Part of Dang Chhu and Nikachhu sub-basin also falls within this area. Po Chhu Sub-basin, which forms part of Punatshang Chhu, also originates here. Therefore, these basin forms one of the most important catchments for the future hydro power generation envisioned in the 10th and 11th Bhutan Power Master Plan

Other qualifying factors of the proposed area include its potential for ecotourism, the minimal human impact and the ecosystem connectivity within the Eastern Himalayas.

The government has approved the proposed new protected area to mark the centenary celebration on 9 June 2008. The park will be formally declared in October coinciding with enthronement of the 5th Druk Gyalpo.

Objectives

Official declaration of approximately 3,700 Km2 of the temperate broadleaf conifer and alpine ecosystems as a new protected area.

- Preserve and facilitate movement of animals, plants and insects.
- Protect water towers and river headwaters for Bhutan’s major freshwater sources
- Improve scientific knowledge on natural resources and livelihoods in high mountains of Bhutan.
- Open opportunities for livelihood initiatives.

Solution

WWF as the conservation partner to the Royal Government will support the proposed work financially and technically. Once completed, WWF will help the Royal Government maintain the park as one of the best represented alpine ecosystems in the country.

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