|Hon’ble Lyonpo (Dr.) Pema Gyamthso with the participants of the workshop|
The park resident and other stakeholders are very much part of effective and efficient management of the park and they can equally contribute by playing critical roles. This is what Jigme Dorji National Park is portraying through conducting of consultative meeting which is in full swing at NRDCL conference hall at Thimphu. The consultative meeting is the first of its kind involving the local leaders, Gewog Administrative Officers from 15 gewogs, Dzongkhag Forestry staff, Dzongkhag Planning and other stakeholders initiated by protected areas in Bhutan. The two-day meeting is spearheaded towards collective development of park’s mission, vision and objectives besides many issues and constraints with special reference to Community Forest, Community-based Sustainable Natural Resource Management, Management zoning, Research and human wildlife conflicts.
The meeting commenced with presentations introducing the park to the august gathering followed by ICDP & EE, Research activities, Forest resource utilization and management in the park and Management Zoning of the park.
“There are many issues related to park management, such as grazing, illegal collection of medicinal plants, poaching of wild animals, human-wildlife conflicts that need to be jointly addressed. Time is ripe for making collective decisions and planning of the park by involving all key stakeholders. Hence, it is appropriate that we introduce the concept of “participatory management of national parks,” states the paper accessed from the Park official. Towards this, whole of the first day afternoon was dedicated for participatory discussions where almost all specific concerns was raised by participants which has direct bearings on them. The Chief Forestry Officer of the park, Mr. Phuntsho Thinley patiently lent his ears to each of them and explored for the solutions consensually.
The issues discussed were compartmentalized into gewogs, Park Range Offices, Park Management Section heads and other consolidated issues related to Park Management. This offered appropriate platform and opportunity for each participants to express what they have in their minds.
For instance Shari Gup from Paro stressed on the need of enrollment of extra Resoops (Village forest guard) who is indispensable for better management of the park. The CFO not only received the proposal positively but also supplemented the need to incorporate and encourage community-based tourism within the park jurisdiction which will have far reaching effect in poverty reduction – the overarching theme of the 10th FYP.
Asked about the benefit of such meeting, Toewang Gup Tawchu under Punakha Dzongkhag said that they have been as of now against the park policy. This is mainly because, without a proper understanding, the park is perceived as more of obstacles in accessing the forest produce. He said, “the meeting instilled in us the responsibility to be more of a management partner.”
Another participant at the meeting, Pema Tenzin, Asst. Planning Officer of Thimphu Dzongkhag appreciated it saying that this is a people-centered planning process. Hence, he expressed his confidence that the implementation will be effective since every planning with participatory modality has higher chances of success.
The inaugural session of the meeting was graced by Agriculture & Forests Minister, His Excellency, Lyonpo (Dr.) Pema Gyamthso, Members of Parliaments, Director, DoFPS, Director, DAMC, Director, BTFEC, Country Representative, WWF, representatives from UNDP-GEF Program and CFOs of various functional divisions.
Jigme Dorji National Park is second largest among the 10 protected areas in Bhutan with its area of 4,316 km spreading within Paro, Punakha, Gasa and Thimphu Dzongkhags. It provides Nu. 81.54 million worth of resources to the park resident on an annual basis. At the regional level, the park provides ecosystem services worth 19.86 million and Nu. 1125.19 million at a national level.