To commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the glorious reign of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests launched “Bhutan State of Parks 2016” on 9 December 2016. The launching ceremony was graced by Hon’ble Lyonchen Tshering Tobgay and Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji. For the first time, the report highlights the conservation value and management performance of the protected areas of Bhutan. The Department of Forests and Park Services will now measure all protected areas every five years, to track progress of conservation management and enable adaptive management prescriptions.
Bhutan has a rare set of attributes for conserving nature, ecosystem services, local culture, and an ecologically representative and well-connected protected areas system covering 50 per cent of the country. Such an achievement became possible only through the wisdom emanating from great leadership, in particular His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck, during whose reign the foundations were established for sound environmental governance unmatched in any other country. The report highlights that the future of Bhutan is equally secure in the reign of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, with dedication to our natural heritage and ecologicaly-benign development planning.
The overall results from the assessment indicate that the protected areas are well managed. A key highlight of the report is the use of the globally-accepted Bhutan METT Plus (Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool) to assess all protected areas. The methodology is adapted from IUCN’s standard methodology, and adapted for Bhutan’s context to also address climate change and ecosystem services, with a guidance annexure on threat levels. It has been rigorously developed since 2015, through a series of consultations and piloted in four parks (Royal Manas, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, Phrumsengla, and Wangchuck Centennial National Parks).
However, more detailed analysis is constrained by low financial and technical resources, and gaps in the monitoring and research data. The latter issues limit the ability to understand the impacts of conservation, react to changing conditions and undertake adaptive management to improve effectiveness. Similar to other developing countries, Bhutan finds itself at a challenging crossroad, with growing pressures from various externalities such as climate change, increasing transit routes for illegal wildlife trade, demands from tourism, and large-scale infrastructure development. If not carefully addressed, these issues can have major adverse impacts on protected areas management.
For this report, the Royal Government of Bhutan deeply appreciates the invaluable support of its conservation partners, namely WWF, GEF 5, NABU, the World Bank, ICIMOD and Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation.
Submitted: Wildlife Conservation Division, Department of Forest and Park Services, MoAF, Thimphu, Bhutan.
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