The Opening Ceremony of the 14th International Society of Ethnobiology (ISE) Congress took place at Ugyen Wangchuck Stadium in Bumthang, Bhutan on 1 June 2014. The objective of the Congress which is held once every two years is to support and promote the critical efforts of indigenous peoples, traditional societies and local communities in the conservation of biological, cultural and linguistic diversity. HRH Ashi Chimi Yangzom Wangchuck, Guest of Honour, inaugurated the event to a crowd of almost 200 participants from Bhutan and 400 participants representing 56 other countries. The Minister of Agriculture and Forests Lyonpo Yeshi Dorji, Dasho Sangay Wangchuck, Dasho Peljor J. Dorji, Lam Neten and Dasho Dzongdag of Bumthang Dzongkhag, Director General for Department of Forest and Park Services, and other sector heads also attended the Congress ceremony.
In addition to inaugurating the Congress, HRH Ashi Chimi Yangzom Wangchuck launched the Birds of Bhutan Web-app and five new UWICE publications: Wildlife Research Techniques in Rugged Mountainous Asian Landscapes, Field Guide to Primulas of Bhutan, Field Guide to Hesperiidae (Skippers) of Bhutan, Aquatic Biodiversity Assessment and Ecological and Socio-Cultural Significance of High Altitude Wetlands. A final highlight of the Congress Opening was the maiden flight of a conservation drone, which UWICE will use to map forest and snow cover and to monitor forests impacted by fire. UWICE conservation drone and publications were generously funded by the Bhutan Foundation.
Regenerating Biocultural Ecosystem Resilience and Transmission of Traditional Knowledge are the two broad themes selected for this week-long Congress. It will help focus and guide dialogue and exchanges among the participants. These over-arching themes include the following sub-themes:
- Living Well: Environment, Sacred Heritage and Livelihoods
- Protected Areas, Ecotourism and Community Involvement
- Intergenerational Learning/Transmission of Knowledge
- Ethnobiology and Ecosystem Services – Broadening the Conversation
- Influencing Governance Policies (community-based natural resource management, gender, participation, citizen science…)
- Ethnobiology in Mountain Communities
- Mindfulness, Ethics and Mental Ecology
The Congress program will include a diversity of formats for people to share their knowledge, ideas and experiences, including talking circles, film viewings and discussions, cultural performances, field trips, oral presentations and poster sessions.
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