31 July- 2 August, Thimphu: The World Ranger Day for the first time in Bhutan was celebrated as a tribute to recognise the role that the rangers play in the conservation of Bhutan’s natural heritage and public service delivery. The event also celebrated the membership of its Society of Bhutanese Foresters to the International Rangers Federation (IRF).
The IRF, set up in 1992 provides a forum for rangers from around the world to share their successes and failures in protecting the world’s heritage and to promote information and technology transfer.
The Hon’ble Sanam Lyonpo said that joining IRF would bring greater support to men and women who do the vital work on the ground.
The Day also paid a tribute to rangers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. At least 107 rangers died globally in the line of duty last year alone of which numerous cases were in Bhutan.
His Excellency, the Prime Minister of Bhutan graced the event opening accompanied by Cabinet Ministers, heads of Ministries, representatives of development and conservation partners, international organisations and officials from the Department of Forests and Park Services (DoFPS).
His Excellency highlighted that the country has 71% of the total geographical area under forest cover and that the country to be a carbon neutral which serves not only as a sink to emissions within the country but also offsets emissions from the neighboring Indian states.
“All these have been possible, firstly due to the visionary monarchs and guidance from the Golden Throne and secondly due to the dedicated service of the frontline staff”, stated His Excellency. He also highlighted that the park rangers and frontline staff risk their lives to protect wildlife and habitats from poaching and other threats. He added that, had it not been the perseverance of the rangers, iconic species like tigers, snow leopards and elephants would have extinguished from the wild.
The Hon’ble Agriculture Secretary stated that the most frontline staff who work under sinister environment are often equipped or trained with limited resources and said that the Rangers at the forefront must be better equipped. “But they need support beyond boots and backpacks”, he said.
To mark the Day, the Director for DoFPS called the participants to pause for a moment to reflect on the brave work and sacrifices of the rangers in Bhutan and all over the world to honour and respect the fallen and appreciate and encourage those who still bravely undertake their role in the field to protect wildlife, nature and communities living therein.
Commemorating the Day, the Ministry awarded seven categories of certificates in recognition of the outstanding services and to encourage environmental stewardship in all. The first certificate was awarded to DoFPS for the longest serving agency in governance and for their progressive contributions to forests and nature conservation and public service delivery. The second certificate was awarded to ex-foresters, third certificate was awarded to best community forest in the country. The fourth certificate was awarded to 96 foresters who have served more than 30 years in the forest department. The fifth certificate was awarded as a appreciation for courage, dedication, commitments shown by the forest rangers and foresters.
Sonam Phuntsho from Thimphu Division was awarded a certificate in appreciation of his tireless efforts devoted to plantation. He have planted more than 10000 saplings and continues to look for barren areas to be afforested.
The day also witnessed the launching of the Society of Bhutanese Foresters, Druk Rangers Magazine and the Forest Information Resource Management System and a forestry theme song. The Department also launched the HWC endowment fund. On the same day, Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation (BTFEC), a strong conservation partner for DoFPs also celebrated their 25 years since inception.
The day also shared the experience from the foresters of four different periods. The day ended with the opening of exhibition stalls showcasing the diverse roles played by the departments in preserving the natural resources and supporting the livelihoods and economy of the country.
The event was organised by DoFPs in collaboration with WWF-Bhutan, BTFEC and Ranger Federation of Asia.
Reported by Tashi Yangzom with photos by Choidup Zangpo, ICTD
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