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Epitomic Retreat Walk from Haa to Samtse

The bag-packs still lies unpacked; the dust is yet to settle and enriched memories of rural setting are still fresh in the minds of Social Forestry officials from their recent retreat walk. They’ve treaded the path least trodden in the quest of getting the real feel of lives the people in remote villages lead harmoniously co-existing with nature.
Following the conventional adage of “seeing is believing” in letters and spirits, the 12 officials recently embarked on a 5-day retreat walk from Haa to Samtse. The retreat walk was undertaken to physically see for themselves various problems and challenges faced by the people in remote hamlets. This is possible by interacting with local farmers en route about their use of forest and other natural resources.
Besides, the retreat walk also enabled to further develop, enhance and foster team spirits and synergies between different components of Social Forestry programme such as community & private forests, Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFP) management and plantations. The thematic sessions, discussions and summarizing insights gained during the trip was also held which helped to further improve the coherence of the main elements of the division.
the village and forests they traversed through...
The retreat walk is a radical break from conventional modus operandi of conducting such sessions within the confinement of four walls. The walk provided unique opportunities and experiences of focusing the attention in a live subject. Instead of theoretical flashes of presentations and lecturing, the retreat walk involved more of exploring the problems, issues and opportunities in soothing environment of the ambient sound of chirping birds, rustling of leaves and cool refreshing air. It’s a perfect antonym of normal workshop, seminar and any other official gatherings.
“We walked through places like Pajab, Shebji, Sombaykha, Sebjithang, Dumtoe and Dorokha in Haa and Samtse Dzongkhags often pausing and contemplating on forests & other natural resources issues and rural setting. We also looked into how Social Forestry Division (SFD) can help rural people generate income and their livelihood,” said KJ Temphel, the member of the retreat walk.
K.N Ghimrey, another member of the troupe said that it was fulfilling journey that enabled them to witness the real hardships the rural folks are enduring. He observed that terrain itself is very challenging and people there have got guts to settle in such hostile area where the basic element of uplifting rural livelihood – the accessibility to market is a far-fetched dream. He felt that people there could establish their own small scale forest nursery for small area plantation and added, “The prevalence of tseri (slash & burn) cultivation is high in the backdrop of government discouraging such agriculture practice.”
The retreat walk was rated as an epitome one which many other departments and agencies could pick up. It was the first-of-its-kind being undertaken and the outcomes as per officials from SFD were overwhelming. SFD will plan further most explorative and learning retreat in future.


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