|Participants cleaning Hongtsho area|
Thirty eight students including three teachers of Nature Club from Motithang Higher Secondary School, along with staff and community representatives from Chang Gewog, Thimphu Dzongkhag and forestry staff of Nature Recreation and Ecotourism Division (NRED) and Royal Botanical Park (RBP) under the Department of Forests and Park Services (DoFPS) carried out clean up along the national highway till RBP, Lamperi on 23 April 2011. This was the first such activity initiated by the Department of Forests and Park Services to highlight the problem of indiscriminate garbage disposal in the forest areas-which is an important environmental issue calling for a joint coordinated efforts by all stakeholders.
This is also in line with the recent directive from the Hon’ble Minister, MoAF that henceforth DoFPS and its field offices will take active role in waste/garbage management in forest areas.
A total of 60 participants gathered at YHS parking at 8.30 am on Saturday morning and after a short briefing on the program for the day by Sonam Choden, Senior Forest Officer, NRED, the group stopped to clean up garbage at Hongtsho and Dochula areas. From Dochula, the group trekked through Dochula Nature Trail, 1.5 Kms till PWD labour camp, collecting garbage along the way. The group collected 15 large sacks (Greener Way sacks) of garbage in total, out of which 4 sacks were pet bottles and the rest were other garbage such as rags, papers, cartoons, plastics, huggies etc. The garbage collected were brought back and handed over to Greener Way base at Olakha for further sorting and recycling.
In addition to the clean up, the students and community representatives also had the opportunity to visit recreational and educational facilities in the park such as visitor center, rhododendron, medicinal plants and orchid gardens, children’s park, Baritsho lake, yak herder tent, eco-campsites and green house. In the visitor center, presentation on environmental issues including garbage problem was made by Park In-charge Mr. Tenzin Phuntsho followed by screening of park documentary.
Sonam Choden, the coordinator from NRED said, “Such activity will be a monthly feature henceforth involving different schools under Thimphu”.
Besides carrying out the clean up, the visit was also organized to help inculcate and develop appreciation for nature by the students and how individual actions can contribute to resolving environmental issues such as waste management.
Sonam Wangchuk, the student representative put the experience of all the visiting members saying that it was an experience they’ve never dreamt of. They thanked the department for conducting such activity, which gave them opportunity to learn about the park, environmental issues and participate in clean up activity.
Tshering Dema, a community representative from Hongtsho said “When outsiders volunteer to do cleaning of our area, it is also our uncalled duty to support and participate”.
The program was organized by NRED with financial support from Royal Government of Bhutan.