Evaluating the state of Bhutan’s protected areas
All ten protected areas, equating to 51.44% of the country, were evaluated. Overall results show that protected areas are well managed but their effectiveness is limited by a low level of resources, both financial and technical, and by gaps in the monitoring and research data. These gaps limit the ability to understand the impact of conservation in Bhutan, react to changing conditions and to adapt management to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
In 2014, Bhutan embarked on an ambitious project to conduct a national assessment of all its protected areas to strengthen the management effectiveness through a self-assessment standard tool that is tailor made for Bhutan but also satisfies the principles of universally accepted METT. Therefore, together with the government and technical expertise from Equilibrium Research (UK), WWF Bhutan funded and facilitated a self-sustaining ME (Management Effective) system, most suitable for Bhutan, called the “Bhutan METT +”. The Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation also supported some of the assessment work in the field.
Today, Bhutan METT+ implementation provides the government with a huge resource of information on the management effectiveness of protected areas. It provides a baseline for each protected area and has helped identify problems at the specific protected area which need to be addressed in order to improve that management over the next few years.
A State of the Parks report from these findings will be officially launched at the Convention on Biological Diversity 13th Conference of Parties in Cancun, Mexico, in December 2016. The information gathered will give, for the first time, a detailed and definitive picture of the status, trends and management needs of Bhutan’s protected areas system.
At the same time, the Royal Government of Bhutan and WWF are working to create an innovative funding mechanism for protected areas system called “Bhutan for Life”. This initiative will mobilize financial resources and other commitments to effectively manage a 5-million-acre network of parks and biological corridors in perpetuity. Hence, the State of the Parks will also provide both a baseline against which to measure progress towards Bhutan for Life, and a methodology for tracking protected area management effectiveness over time.
Bhutan is also one of the tiger range countries interested in implementing the Conservation Assured |Tiger Standards (CA|TS) accreditation approach, which is developing best practice in tiger conservation across the tiger range. The State of the Parks assessment can help provide background data for any future implementation of CA|TS.
al expertise from Equilibrium Research (UK), WWF Bhutan funded and facilitated a self-sustaining ME (Management Effective) system, most suitable for Bhutan, called the “Bhutan METT +”. The Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation also supported some of the assessment work in the field.