“We have a rich biodiversity and we do a lot of monitoring works in protected areas, but they are all done in isolation. We really don’t have a national-level data," Tandin, a Senior Forestry Officer with the Nature Conservation Division, said.
But it won't be long before Bhutan has a systematic, coordinated and consolidated biodiversity data from across the country. The country will soon make biodiveristy monitoring an annual affair.
A National Biodiversity Monitoring Protocol has been drafted through a UNDP supported, Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded project of the Royal Government of Bhutan.
The Nature Conservation Division (NCD) of the Department of Forests and Park Services (DoFPS), Ministry of Agriculture and Forest Services, mandated with the planning and implementation of the biodiversity conservation plans and programs, initiated the development of the protocol.
Biodiversity experts came together over the past few months to develop protocol for monitoring plant, mammal, fish, reptile and amphibian, bird and insect species. The protocol was field tested and consolidated at a workshop in Gelephu recently. Some 45 forestry officials from across the country took part.
The week-long workshop included rigorous field exercise, which involved visiting forests and rivers to record and identify plant and animal species. Jigme Tshelthrim Wangyal, the Deputy Chief Forestry Officer of Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve (JKSNR) in Haa, led the herpetofauna or reptile and amphibian group.
“In the case herpetofauna group, we don’t even have a baseline data. With this protocol now, we will soon have a baseline data," he said. "Once we have a baseline data, we can work on it and see changes over the years and find out if species are disappearing or increasing in number.”
The draft protocol will be handed to the Department of Forests and Park Services (DoFPS) for review and approval.
“After approval, the protocol needs to be institutionalized so that Bhutan has an annual biodiversity monitoring program," Letro, a Senior Forestry Officer NCD, said.
While Bhutan is well known for its rich biodiversity, there is no standard monitoring protocol in place. So, efforts to measure, monitor and conserve biodiversity is critical to ensuring the country’s biodiversity thrives.