Bhutan Designated Their Second Largest Park

From Kuensel, Buhutan’s National Newspaper – Bhutan

15 December, 2008 – It was a tribute to the Wangchuck dynasty for a century of visionary leadership in conservation of Bhutan’s rich natural heritage. And for once, it was the only protected area comprising of all four national symbols-flower, animal, tree and bird.

Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley inaugurated the second largest protected area in the country, Wangchuck Centenary Park (WCP) in Nasiphel village of Choekhar gewog, Bumthang on December 12.

Covering about 3,736 km sq of north-central region of the country, WCP connected Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park in the west and Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary in the east.

Adding to its special features was also the park area being a source of Punatsangchu, Mangdechu, Kurichu, and Chamkharchu, the rivers, which would power hydropower projects.

Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley said that the declaration of WCP for the conservation of species and unique ecosystems in the country was a humble tribute to the Monarchs, who placed environmental conservation at the heart of development.

“Today we are adding another jewel to our existing network of protected areas,” he said.

The park was also expected to uplift local communities through community tourism and home-stays.

“The park has a huge potential to promote ecotourism in water related recreational sports such as boating, skiing, fishing and canoeing,” said an official from nature conservation division, adding that the famous Dhur tsachu (hot spring) located in the park would attract tourists.

Locals agree. Kuenga, 28, from Nasiphel village, the farthest village in the gewog, said the park had given them road. “Eco-tourism would benefit us even more,” she said.

Meanwhile the park is not short of challenges.

Chief forest officer, Sonam Wangyel Wang, said that with the institution of the new park management, they also had to look at the livelihood of about 10,000 people who are directly depended on park resources.

“The Park will not restrict people from using forest resources but ensure them to use it in a sustainable manner,” he said.

The zone was a host to about 242 species of plants belonging to 51 families, 23 species of mammals and 135 species of birds. Endangered mammals such as tigers, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, Takin and Tibetan Wolf also inhabit the park.

By Tashi Dema