Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

After successful completion of the previous contract term, Yagpogang community forest (CF) management and Mongar water user groups renewed their agreement on payment for environment services (PES) in principle last week.

The parties agreed to extend the contract term to 10 from five years and also revise the payment from Nu 30 to 50 per unit on the water meter a month for the town. The rate remains the same for the Mongar regional referral hospital.

The parties came to a consensus last week in the negotiation meeting the watershed management division facilitated.

The contract term was also extended from five to 10 years.

The protected area with a buffer zone in the watershed was identified as a recharge zone with the area of 538 acres surrounding the water source, which covers more than half of the total CF area.

The first PES agreement was signed between the Yagpogang CF and water user groups in 2011 for the period of three years. This was renewed in 2015 with a new term of five years that exhausted in December 2019.

The catchment area in Yagpogang CF is the main water source that caters to the residents in Mongar town and the regional referral hospital staff. The CFM has 103 members from Yagpogang and upper Kidheykhar village. The CF covers an area of 650 acres.

Apart from protecting the recharge zone, the CFM members have to carry out certain regular activities like cleaning the stream, afforestation, guarding CF against illegal extraction of forest resources, limiting the number of cattle members can rear to five, and maintaining sanitation and hygiene, among others.

The PES scheme incentivises the CF members to protect the forest from excessive grazing and over-harvesting.

The CF members benefit with around Nu 142,000 a year from the 267 water meters at homes and business units.

Forestry officials said the payment is usually made towards the end of the year after the water committee inspection.

While the revision of the rate will add to their income, forest officials said numbers of water meters have also increased over the years and they would update the list soon.

With water becoming increasingly scarce and precious, the parties came to a quick consensus.

“All we want is the continued supply of water and payment is not an issue at all,” a resident said.