The final consultation meeting for Bhutan for Life initiative began in Thimphu on June 18 to ensure strong network of protected areas and biological corridors in the country.

More than 170 people are attending the five-day meeting. The meeting would also discuss coordination gaps and issues in the field offices.

Chief of Nature Conservation Division (NCD), Sonam Wangdi, said that the final consultation meeting would help create awareness and provide information regarding the Bhutan for Life initiative. “We have reached the conservation tipping point with more than 60 percent of the population under the age of 24 years, which will exert pressure on the resources.”

With Bhutan nearing graduation from Least Developed Country status, there would be decrease in foreign aid and that could make conservation of environment challenging, he added.

Bhutan for Life was thus conceived as an innovative mechanism to enhance the conservation efforts in the country with the Project for Finance Permanence (PFP) model in 2013.  PFP is a funding model that brings private and public investors to fund ambitious, measurable, and long-term conservation impacts.

The initiative will be implemented for 14 years.

The activities will revolve around five broad themes including sanctuary for the diversity and persistence of life, purveyor of sustainable, resilient ecosystem goods and services, reservoir for carbon and adaptation to climate change, center of economic opportunity and community wellbeing and center of effective management and efficient services.

According to the prospectus of the Bhutan for Life, the initiative will directly involve local communities to develop sustainable, climate-resilient land management that uses traditional knowledge.

At least one stretch of river will be declared as free flowing and managed for conservation and climate resilience. The transition fund will increase population of two species, including tiger number.  The prospectus states: “We expect to see significant improvements in the management of protected areas, with conservation plans developed for 10 additional priority species.”

Protected area and biological corridor management plans will incorporate climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. The 10 protected areas and biological corridors form 51.44 percent of the country.

Bhutan for Life will ensure that necessary staff, infrastructure, and technology are put in place to conserve over the long term.

Bhutan’s protected areas and biological corridors will have established zero poaching frameworks and instituted Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) to improve effectiveness of patrolling.

Implementing agencies include NCD, Watershed Management Division, Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environmental Research, Forest Protection and Enforcement Division, and Forest Resource Management Division among others.

NCD organised the consultation meeting that ends on June 22.

Rinchen Zangmo