Pemachoeling Heritage Forest inaugurated in Tsirang

Tsriang; For centuries, Bhutanese have treasured the natural environment and have looked upon it as the source of all life. Bhutan wishes to continue living in harmony with nature and to pass on this rich heritage to her future generations. Picture1As per the provision of Forest and Nature Conservation Act 1995, Chapter 6, section 21(A) and subsequently targeted by the Department of Forests and Park Services in establishment of twenty Heritage Forests in the Country in the 11th five year plan, Territorial Forest Division, Tsirang in consultation with various stakeholders such as Tsirang Dzongkhag Administration, Tsirangtoe Central School and Geog Administration have established a heritage forest at the ruin dzong and Nye site at Tsirangtoe geog with fund support from Nature Conservation Division (NCD), Department of Forests and Park Services.

Pemachoeling Heritage Forest adopted by Tsirang Forest Division was officially inaugurated by Tsirang Dzongda, Dasho Ngawang Pem on the 16/09/2017.  The ceremony was attended by Regional heads, Section heads, Gups of Tsirangtoe, Phuentenchu and Sergithang Geog, Principal, Teachers and students of Tsirangtoe Central School, local communities, students of Tsirangtoe CS and staff of Tsirang Territorial Division.

With the objective to protect the natural forests and rehabilitate degraded forest ecosystems around the archeological sites (ruin dzong and Gompa (Nye)) and to preserve the cultural and spiritual values attached to this historical site including protection of Rajapani springsheds, an area of 18.211 hectares (45 acres) will be preserved for all the times to come. The area comprised mostly of Pinus roxburghii, followed by Schima wallichii, Quercus griffithii, Quercus lanata, Lyonia ovelifolia and other under storey species with  diversity index of 1.55 H’ and basal area of 15.66 m2/ha.

According to the Chief Forestry Officer, Dimple Thapa, Tsirang Forest Division “Since Tsirangtoe Central School is one of the main stakeholders of the HF, the School has shown greater interest in managing the botanical garden within their excess land next to old ruined dzong. The development of botanical park/mini park with wider collection of native plant species from within Tsirang dzongkhag and planting in the HF is planned. Each plant species will be name tagged with its family, genus and species name with its importance. This botanical park will serve as a center for education purposes for the schools and students.”

No dendro-archeological studies have been carried out to document the age of the ruined dzong, however, the village elders perceived that about more than 200 years ago there lived a powerful local king named Sang Sup Gyap which is believed to be killed during the reign of Jigme Namgyal in an internal civil war. The local legends believed that this powerful king build Gompa (chorten at the top of the hill, now is considered as Nye) which is still intact. There are also numerous small chortens (built by the king) within the Tsirangtoe Central School compound. People believed that this historical and archeological site is important site as they believed local deity resides here. This Nye site with chorten is a place of worship by locals. Therefore, the Tsirangtoe locals perform rituals annually to please the local deity for the welfare of the local community. It is also believed that the precious treasure (packed in leather bag) belonging to this King is now kept at the Tsirangtoe Lhakhang.

During the auspicious occasion (on full moon night), local relates stories that they can also hear the religious trumpets being played at midnight in the olden days. This is not heard after one of the bells from the Nye (Gompa) flew to Thasa (Laja Geog) of Dagana Dzongkhag. It is believed that one of the bells left this place and now resides in opposite hills in Lhajap Geog, Dagana Dzongkhag.  The people relate stories that this bell is still hanging on the cliff at Thasa village and we can clearly see it with a binocular from approximately 500 meters these days.

 “Various activities such as planting of endemic ornamental plant species, maintenance of existing footpath from ruined dzong to Nye, laying of dolep (flat stone) along the footpath, fencing of old ruin Dzong with iron angle with entry gate, installation of HF signboard at the entrance, Construction of Gazeboo, development of picnic spot and bird watching view, making of salt licks and water holes for wild animals living in HF and waste management activities will be implement accordingly.” Tsirang CFO added.

Territorial Forest Division, Tsirang will be implementing the planned activities based on the management plan developed for the period of ten years (July 2017 to June 2027).

The establishment of Heritage Forest was supported by Bhutan REDD+ Readiness Program funded by Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) of the World Bank.

Reported by Tsirang Forest Division.

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