January 25-31, Zhemgang: A week long training on SMART Patrolling Enforcement is underway in Tingtibi, Zhemgang. The training is organised by Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park in concurrence to the resolutions of the third National Park Conference 2015, held in Lampelri. The conference had directed that all the Protected Areas and Territorial Divisions to implement their own SMART patrolling by recognising the applicability of SMART tool and based on positive experiences shared by Royal Manas National Park in their pilot initiation. Therefore, the two resource persons from the Royal Manas National Park were sought to deliver the training as per their expertise and experience in piloting SMART Patrol Enforcement in the country.
While conservation efforts put in by Bhutanese foresters are remarkable, the patrolling system followed is still the conventional method where no specific data on the efforts put in by the foresters are reflected though poachers and illegal forest product transactions are recorded. This has left most of the efforts put in by the frontline conservationist unrecognised. Besides, there is no concrete data and information on the extent of patrolling conducted by individual foresters and respective agencies. Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) on the other hand is a software that generate report at any time and for any length of period, provided for the field practitioners to collect data on Global Positioning System (GPS) device every time they go to the fields. From the report, the managers will be able to direct resources to the needy places and individual efforts will be measured for the motivation. Implementing SMART will mean a shift of patrolling system from conventional type to modern digitalised system. While SMART is gaining popularity throughout the world, SMART was first introduced in Bhutan in the Roayal Manas National Park as a pilot project in 2013.
The Chief Forestry Officer for Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, Mr. Pankey Dukpa in his opening remarks, emphasised on the need to understand our responsibilities of ensuring sustainable utilisation of natural resources, wildlife conservation and forest protection. “Knowing these responsibilities alone is not enough. The ultimate aim of the current training is to equip our staffs by building capability through the use of existing facilities to put in cost efficient and effective conservation” the Park Manager said.
The training is being attended by 31 frontline conservationists including 17 staffs from Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park (JSWNP), and the representatives from Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary, Territorial Divisions of Bumthang, Sarpang, Tsirang, Zhemgang and Wangdue, Forest Protection and Surveillance Division and Wildlife Conservation Division. While the current training is the threshold for enforcement of SMART in JSWNP, it will also serve as the Training of Trainers (ToT) for the representatives of the other divisions.
The funding for the training was secured through the current World Wildlife Fund, Funded project “Intensive priority Conservation through Community participation for maintaining via Biodiversity and Ecological Connectivity in B2C2 landscape” in Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park.
The Bhutan’s oldest protected area, Royal Manas National Park introduced SMART Patrolling in November, 2013 and Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park will be the second National Park in the country to use the SMART Patrol Enforcement.
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