Chhimi Dema

Living Landscape: Securing High Conservation Values in South-Western Bhutan, an initiative to conserve biodiversity, ecosystems, and cultural values in nine dzongkhags that are without legal protection in the next eight years, is adopting and implementing the approach of High Conservation Values (HCV) to ensure conservation of natural resources, besides enabling their sustainable use.

It was first used in forest management in 1999 and gained momentum for its use in agriculture and other natural resource management.

The inception meeting on the development of the HCV National Interpretation of Bhutan was held on November 30.

World Wildlife Fund Bhutan’s programme coordinator, Younten Phuntsho, said that HCV National Interpretation is a guiding document that will define key HCV terms and concepts in context of Bhutan.

The document will also guide HCV adoption and implementation in Bhutan.

The HCV National Interpretation of Bhutan will consider six categories, namely: biodiversity, landscapes, rare ecosystems and habitats, ecosystem services, community needs, and cultural values.

The project is being implemented by the WWF Bhutan and Tarayana Foundation in collaboration with the Department of Forests and Park Services (DoFPS) and the National Land Commission (NLC) Secretariat.

DoFPS chief forestry officer, Kinley Tshering, said that the HCV approach is about protecting nature, promoting cultural heritage, and enhancing community livelihoods.

“HCV is taking conservation a step further,” he said.

Conservation generally meant posing restrictions on people from doing any economic activities, he said, whereas HCV will hinge on the National Interpretation, which would consider conservation aspects while also not compromising on community and cultural heritage needs.

“HCV under any circumstance doesn’t mean we will put all areas under protection and prohibit people from doing anything,” Kinley Tshering said.

The initiative will be implemented in Haa, Paro, Thimphu, Chukha, Dagana, Tsirang, Sarpang, Samtse, and Zhemgang that do not fall under protected areas.

Kinley Tshering said that areas outside protected areas are focus areas because in some cases, endangered wildlife or iconic species are also found outside the protected areas. “We want to extend some form of protection to these areas.”

The initiative covers 9,967.45 sq km of areas that are 53.5 percent outside the protected areas.

The project is funded through the International Climate Initiative by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety.

Edited by Jigme  Wangchuk