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Choki Wangmo   

Bhutan earned an environmental champion title due to the visionary leadership and strong conservation laws and policies.  But the vagaries of global weather and changing climate have had some serious impact on the country’s conservation efforts.  Poaching, invasive species, and climate change are some of the emerging issues that are growing at an alarming rate.

So, what is Bhutan’s new conservation narrative in the context of changing socioeconomic settings?

The book assesses conservation priorities for Bhutan and provides sensible solutions.  It looks into the country’s conservation laws and policies.  At a time when the country needs a radical shift in its development priorities, the book may shed some light on the realities facing the country today.

If the many departments and bureaucrats read and listen, and see for themselves, it may be an opportunity to make necessary changes in the way we look at conservation and its challenges.   The book has nine chapters and identifies challenges with policy recommendations.

Bhutan may be a carbon negative country today but it faces serious threats of climate change with a temperature rise of 1.3°C over the last two decades, which is nearing the threshold level of 2°C rise above the preindustrial levels.  Threats from increased temperature like glacial lake outburst floods are ever-present, which poses “…uniquely perilous challenges in keeping with its conservation commitments because of its relatively low adaptive capacity and being one of the least “developed” countries in the world.”

The book calls for climate change policy or a climate white paper, which can provide a prudent and holistic approach to tackle climate change impacts in the country.

A major attempt to assess taxonomic bias and the need to include research and studies on other kingdoms, besides plants and animals, for example, is insightful.  For that, the book suggests embedding research and policy recommendations to conserve the underrepresented or lesser-known species within Bhutanese conservation strategies.

Among other vital issues, the book talks about human-wildlife conflict, safety approaches and strategies, and innovative approach using immunocontraceptive vaccines (antifertility vaccine) for the population control of street dogs and wild animals for peaceful coexistence between humans and wildlife.

The country needs a human-wildlife conflict policy, the book says, which encompasses preventive and mitigation measures.

The publication is an important addition to environmental research by a local writer, who has worked in the executive and various roles in conservation agencies.  The book is aimed at researchers and policymakers.  Other readers will find it illuminating and useful too.

Bhutan: Conservation and Environmental Protection in the Himalayas

Ugyen Tshewang, Michael Charles Tobias, and Jane Gray Morrison

ISBN no. ISBN 978-3-030-57823-7

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