Study Visit to Bhutan for Policy Makers: Mainstreaming rangeland issues in national development and planning

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Background

Rangelands in the Hindu Kush Himalayas (HKH) reflect a diverse geographical and cultural landscape, concurrently shaped by historical and current physical forces and human use. Over thousands of years, sedentary, nomadic, and semi-nomadic pastoral communities have developed their own means to adapt to the erratic climatic and biotic conditions in the region’s rangelands. The importance of rangelands in the HKH is gradually being recognized by researchers and conservationists. However, they remain generally neglected in terms of research, legislation, and government development plans for sustainable utilization. In addition, the role of pastoralists as a part of rangeland ecosystems and as guardians of the resources they contain is hardly credited by policy and decision makers. The under-recognition of rangeland resources and the role of pastoralists as end users has resulted in poor management, which is increasingly identified as a cause of rangeland degradation and desertification in the HKH. 

With a general lack of policies in the HKH region concerning rangeland resources, major policy re-orientations are needed to address the challenges faced in rangeland management and pastoral development. Prior to interventions made in the region by ICIMOD, no country except China had a policy on national rangelands. ICIMOD, through its Regional Rangeland Programme (RRP), has been working closely with national partners in several regional member countries to review, revise, and formulate policies on rangeland management. As a result, several have drafted rangeland policies. As a part of ongoing efforts to improve rangeland policies in the region, ICIMOD has planned a study visit for policymakers in regional member countries to Bhutan in order to learn more about rangeland resource management efforts in the region.

Objective

The study visit will facilitate cross-learning between policymakers from Bhutan and those from other regional member countries.

Expected Output 

Lessons and experiences shared among the participants. 

Programme 

Day 1: 26 August 2012, Sunday 
Participants arrive in Thimpu.

Day 2: 27 August 2012, Monday
Presentation and interaction sessions on the planning of Bhutan’s Land Act of 2007 and the associated programmes implemented to effectively manage rangeland resources as well as sharing of experiences and rules related to the enforcement of Bhutan’s Forest and Nature Conservation Act of 2006.

Day 3: 28 August 2012, Tuesday
Travel to Gogona in the Phojikha valley. 

Day 4: 29 August 2012, Wednesday
Visit to the Phobjikha Conservation Area, roosting ground of the Black-necked Crane.

Presentation and interaction with the Farmers’ Cooperative in Gogona; sharing of experiences and lessons learned in setting up and institutionalizing the Farmers’ Cooperative. Observation of pasture land management, milk processing, product development, value addition, and marketing.
 
Day 5: 30 August 2012, Thursday
Travel to Wangdi. Visit to the Renewable Natural Resources Research and Development Centre in Bajo to learn about its pasture-related research programme. 

Day 6: 31 August 2012, Friday
Visit to Punakha and the Lamperi Botanical Park. Return to Thimphu.

Day 7: 1 September 2012, Saturday
Participants return to their respective countries.