August 29, Thimphu: Protected Areas (PAs) which cover almost 51% of Bhutan’s area provide a safe haven for some of the most endangered species on our planet and serve as critical reserves for eastern Himalayan biodiversity. With some of the earliest PAs having been established in the 1960s, PAs have witnessed tremendous growth and seen substantial financial and manpower investments.
Traditional forms of monitoring which only audit physical and financial progress have not yielded required insights to inform and improve management of Protected Areas. With the intent of measuring success and informing future management, a Bhutan METT Plus (Management Effective Tracking Tool) was successfully piloted in four protected areas (Royal Manas, Jigme Singye Wanchuck, Phrumsengla and Wangchuck Centennial). 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. Self-assessments from this process will further undergo external review to validate findings. The exercise revealed important lessons on how to improve management by highlighting the efficacy of anti-poaching stints and community development programs.
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