Choki Wangmo 

Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor introduced the declaration of a biological corridor (BC) connecting Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary and Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary at the National Assembly yesterday.

Lyonpo said that the proposed corridor of 216 square km stretching over 60.2km would pass through parts of Teotsho, Yalang, Khamdang, Bumdeling and Yangtse gewogs in Trashiyangtse, and Phongmey gewog in Trashigang.

Of the six gewogs, a survey revealed that there are no settlements in the proposed BC area in Khamdang and Trashiyantse gewogs in Trashiyangtse, and Phongmey gewog in Trashigang. However, there are 363 households in the seven chiwogs of the remaining three gewogs, which is 3.8 percent of the proposed corridor.

Located in the extreme eastern part of the country, currently, there is no ecological connectivity between these two parks, leaving a gap in Bhutan Biological Corridor Complex (B2C2).

Lyonpo said that the declaration of the new BC along this stretch would not only benefit the wildlife to flourish and support the genetic movement of the wildlife biodiversity but “also bring opportunities to access conservation funds in the area and enhance ecosystem or nature-based livelihood opportunities.”

The survey team from the Trashigang Forest Division reported 124 bird species, 25 mammals, and 227 floral species in the proposed BC. The corridor is found to be the habitat of globally-threatened mammal species like Royal Bengal Tiger, Asiatic wild dog, and Himalayan red panda, among others.

The two Members of Parliament (MP) from Khamdang-Ramjar and Mongar constituencies raised the need to consider the interest of residents living in these areas while ensuring that the environment is conserved.

MP Karma Gyeltshen said that while the BC might help bring in developmental funds, the public raised the issue of potential human-wildlife conflict with the declaration of the BC.

“Due to their remoteness, these places are devoid of development. Hopefully, the benefits would trickle down to them,” Mongar MP Karma Lhamo said.

If the Parliament endorses the proposal, Bhutan’s protected area coverage will increase to 52 percent from 51.44 percent.

The Environment and Climate Change Committee will present the findings during the deliberation in the House on June 14.