Strengthening the wetland policy and guidelines for the Royal Government of Bhutan (Project code: SGF/11/BT/01)
With the generous contribution of the government of Japan, this project helped revise and strengthen the wetland policy and guidelines of Bhutan as well as raise public awareness about the importance of wetlands and the significance of being a member of the Ramsar Convention.
The Convention came into force for Bhutan on 7 September 2012, with the designation of two sites as Wetlands of International Importance, Bumdeling and Khotokha, representing a total surface area of 256 hectares.
The project was carried out by the Watershed Management Division (WMD) under the Department of Forests and Park Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests of the Royal Government of Bhutan, the Administrative Authority for the Ramsar Convention and the body responsible for wetlands management and conservation within the country. After the initial drafting of the ‘Procedural Guidelines for Determination and Protection of Significant Wetlands’ in preparation for Bhutan’s accession to the Convention on Wetlands, the WMD identified the need to fine-tune, strengthen and incorporate these guidelines into the wider national biodiversity conservation policies. With the help of local specialists and researchers the ‘Wetland Rules’ were revised, resulting in the now finalized “Guideline on the Wise Use of wetlands in Bhutan”. These guidelines were translated into Dzongkha, the national language, in order to make them accessible to the general public and raise awareness about wetland conservation.
The project also aimed to build capacity and raise awareness about the importance of wetlands as critical components of watershed ecosystems. Through a wetland documentary entitled “Conservation of Wetlands in Bhutan”, people were made aware of the two Ramsar Sites in Bhutan and the possibility of declaring more Ramsar Sites. The 30 minute documentary helped provide a general overview of the initiatives taken by the government of Bhutan and provided information on the services and functions provided by wetlands and their values to local communities. The film was broadcast on national television and 100 DVD copies were distributed to government departments, NGOs and schools. The short 3 minute version of the film can be viewed above.