Choki Wangmo

A Euro 10 million project to help biodiversity conservation and climate change adaptation actions in the nine south-western dzongkhags in the next eight years was launched yesterday.

The Living Landscapes: Securing High Conservation Values in South-Western Bhutan project will be implemented by WWF Bhutan, Tarayana Foundation, and the government.

The identified districts are Haa, Thimphu, Paro, Chhukha and Samtse in the west and Dagana, Tsirang, Sarpang, and Zhemgang in the south.

Through securing biodiversity and ecosystem services outside the protected area system by identifying landscapes with high conservation values, the project is expected to promote integration into the national land-use plan.

It also constitutes the development of technical and institutional capacity of eight divisional forests offices and enhancing the livelihood of the rural communities among others.

Forest Director Lobzang Dorji, said that out of 71 percent of total land under forest cover, only 24 percent falls within the protected areas, therefore, leaving a bigger chunk unprotected.

“Forest department will carry out the technical component and the social component will be implemented by the Tarayana Foundation,” he said adding that the project has set synergies among the stakeholders.

The project, he said, will also help to protect animals outside the protected area while equipping conservationists with skills.

Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor said that the project would help enhance the livelihood of rural people which makes up 62 percent of the total population.

Meanwhile, through virtual address, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in New Delhi, Walter J Lindner, and chief conservation officer of WWF Germany, Christoph Hienrich applauded Bhutan’s conservation efforts over the years.

The project is funded by the International Climate Initiative under the Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany with WWF and Tarayana Foundation as the implementing partners.