The Nature Conservation Division in collaboration with Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environmental Research organized a two-day virtual seminar on Rolling out the Biodiversity Monitoring Programmes across the Protected Areas and Forest Divisions of Bhutan on 20th and 21st January 2021, and we had the privilege of Hon. Director of the Department presiding the opening of the virtual workshop. The nature of workshop being technical and information dissemination, it was kept open for all interested rangers to participate, though not compulsory, and we were overwhelmed with the response where participants exceeded the google meet capacity of 100 participants. Most of the Chief Forestry Officers of the Department and many frontline rangers attended the first-day meeting in the packed virtual room throughout the day.
In the Keynote address by the Hon. Director, he emphasised that the duty of rangers is much broader than what the general public perceives. While it is an inherent responsibility of rangers to ensure effective service delivery to the people and safeguarding the forests and rivers through effective patrolling, Director reiterated that to safeguard the entire biodiversity of the country is our added responsibility. Director acknowledged the professional capability of our rangers and advised further to get ourselves specialized in various technical aspects.
“Becoming specialised in a particular field is what one should strive for rather than being a generalist,” Director remarked.
Director also reminded the Chief Forestry Officers present during the workshop to realize what His Majesty always reiterated, the importance and need of “Leadership of the Self”, which is very pivotal in leading and inspiring the fellow rangers under their management. Furthermore, the Director emphasized the importance of field offices in shouldering the core mandates of the department and leading the implementation of technical works such as the upcoming biodiversity monitoring works. Director also reminded each of us to work with utmost dedication and integrity, upholding human ethics and values.
“Each ranger exhibits the image of the whole department and often a shortcoming of a single person is portrayed as the image of the entire cadre of rangers”, Director said.
The biodiversity monitoring programme to be rolled out across the country is guided by the Biodiversity Monitoring Protocol for six different taxa. The development of these protocols was led by the experts from within the department and contributed by experts both from within and outside the department. Director expressed his appreciation to the team of experts who tirelessly worked on it to finalize the protocols.
“Department of Forests is a technical department and we are not in dearth of technical specialists,” Director remarked. “Grooming the young rangers based on their field of interest is the need of the time.”
Director also shared to the gathering about the appreciations that His Majesty has for the Forest Department for our efforts and contribution during these trying times of the pandemic and of the concerns for the future of our youths. In light of this, the Director expressed the need of the department to explore opportunities for engagement of youths who can later contribute to nation-building.
In short, Director reminded the rangers on key aspects of professionalism, skill-building, teamwork, value addition, and of course integrity and ethics.
Inspired by the keynote address, the two-day workshop was attended by the officials from functional divisions, protected areas, and forest divisions in full capacity, during which the need and objectives of the biodiversity monitoring programme were shared, and taxa leaders introduced the various monitoring protocols. Discussions on citizen science for conservation was also held.
The Department will roll out the biodiversity monitoring programme in all field offices by identifying taxa focals, identifying biodiversity monitoring grids, and integrating the monitoring programme as one of the key activities in their annual programme.
The development of biodiversity monitoring protocols and roll-out plan is being funded by the Global Environment Facility LDCF funded UNDP Bhutan supported, NAPA 3 Project- Bhutan project implemented by the Royal Government of Bhutan.
Note: NCD thanks Hon. Director for gracing the first day of the workshop, and all participants for your overwhelming interest and participation. We also thank all the resource persons, Dr. Sherub, Dr. Kaka Tshering and Jigme Wangchuk from UWICER, Sangay Dorji from Sarpang FD, Jigme T. Wangyal from the University of New England, and our own Tandin and Ngwang Gyeltshen and Namgay Wanchuk.
Nature Conservation Division