Thirty-six people from Sephu Gewog in Wangdue, along with eight forestry officials of Wangchuck Centennial National Park’s (WNCP) western range office, collected more than 600 kilogrammes of wastes along the Snowmen Trek.

The six-day cleaning initiative, which began on May 3, started from Umta Tsho till Lubzur village of the gewog.

People collected both non-degradable and degradable waste. It included plastics, papers, shoes, glasses and bottles.

WCNP’s chief forest officer, Tshering Dhendup, said Snowmen Trek is one of the most popular and well-known trekking routes in the country. “More than half of this route falls within the WCNP,” he said. “Travellers including nomads, cordyceps collectors and tourists walk this route and they litter it.”

He said the people carry junk foods and leave the wrappers. “These wastes remained along this route for many years defying the beauty of nature.”

Tshering Dhendup said the villagers have rendered immense support and cooperation in carrying out the cleaning initiatives.

“We intend to make the trekking route the cleanest route,” he said.

The chief forest officer said the cleaning campaign was organised with the objective to make the alpine meadows clean and verdant ecosystems for all prey and predators. “It is also to sensitise locals and trekkers on impacts of wastes, to address the impact on climate change through waste and species generations in the alpine region.”

It is also aimed at educating the people on the waste prevention and management regulation 2012.

A press release from WCNP stated that the Department of Forests and Park Services is one of the leading government organisation that strives for the waste management besides guarding natural resources. “Parks and sanctuaries under this department are supposed to be well protected but has been always challenging.”

The cleaning campaign was carried out with the financial support from World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Bhutan Programme of Asia High Mountain Project in collaboration with the people of Sephu Gewog, Wangdue, and park officials.

Nima Wangdi