May 22, Thimphu: The Hon’ble Agriculture Minister, Yeshey Dorji launched the revised National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plan (NBSAP) for Bhutan at the National Biodiversity Centre (NBC), Serbithang coinciding with the International Biodiversity Day.
The first Biodiversity Action Plan was developed in 1997 to provide a framework for action for strategic biodiversity management in the country after it became a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The NBSAP has been prepared by national task force members representing key biodiversity stakeholders and has undergone a series of robust consultations. It provides a comprehensive overview of the past Biodiversity Action Plans outlining not only the significant achievements but also the weaknesses and the lessons learned. It also provides a clear coordination mechanism for fund mobilisation and effective implementation of the strategies outlined in the plan.
‘Lauding the significant achievements made by Bhutan for biodiversity conservation and recalling the history of environmental conservation in the country, we can never forget the debt of gratitude we owe to the unparalleled leadership of our beloved Fourth Druk Gyalpo, a true champion of the environment,’ stated Lyonpo in his inaugural speech. With great happiness, Lyonpo dedicated this guiding document on biodiversity management to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, on the occasion of His Majesty’s 60th Birth Anniversary Celebrations.
Lyonpo later provided a brief insight into some of the significant achievements in biodiversity management since the first Biodiversity Action Plan. The achievements included the protected area system increased from 26.23 % in 1997 to 51.44 % in 2008. Two RAMSAR sites were declared in Bumdeling and Khotokha in 2012. Over 12 Acts, Policies and Strategies supporting biodiversity conservation and use were enacted or adopted.
Further, the species conservation programs on Tiger, Snow Leopard, White-bellied heron and the Black-necked crane were instituted. A Human Wildlife Conflict Management Endowment Fund was established. The national crop and animal gene banks were institutionalised. A total of 556 community forests were established, covering 2.3 % of the total forest cover.
Lyonpo also shared ‘I would like to urge each and every one of you to play your part in protecting our pristine environment and conserving our rich biodiversity, not only for our own sustenance and happiness but more importantly, for our future generations.’
The NBSAP will act as the guiding policy document on biodiversity management in the country. It will also ensure that Bhutan not only achieves the targets set out in the Action Plan but proper mechanisms were established and strengthened so that the limited resources are effectively utilised and the rich biodiversity is not undermined, now or in the near future.
Following the launch, Lyonpo inaugurated a Molecular Genetics Laboratory at NBC that marks a start of molecular works in the field of biodiversity conservation in the country. The laboratory will help understand the genetic diversity of existing yet unexplored biological resources in the country. The information generated on diversity from this facility will result in prioritisation of conservation and sustainable use of programs ensuring effective use of limited resources.
Reported by Tashi Yangzom with photos by Choidup Zangpo, ICS
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