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Kangchenjunga Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative
17 August 2021 to
20 August 2021
Tashi Dorji & Sushmita Kunwar
Organizers: Nature Conservation Division (NCD), Department of Forests and Park Services (DoFPS), Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF), Bhutan; and Kangchenjunga Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative, ICIMOD
Concept note Training materials Datasets
The protected area network in Bhutan comprises 10 protected areas connected by eight biological corridors, covering 51.44% of the country. The biological corridors are areas set aside to connect one or more protected areas and facilitate the movement of wild animals and dispersal of plants. A network of eight biological corridors covering an area of 3,011 sq. km was declared as a “Gift to the Earth” from the people of Bhutan in 1999. The biological corridors provide connectivity across an elevation gradient from the sub-tropical ecosystems of Royal Manas National Park, Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary (PWS), and Jomotsangkha Wildlife Sanctuary to the alpine ecosystems of Jigme Dorji National Park and Wangchuck Centennial National Park. The corridors also provide lateral connectivity from the Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve (JKSNR) in the west to the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary and Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary in the east. The biological corridors along with the national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and the strict nature reserve form the Bhutan Biodiversity Conservation Complex, which in turn forms a larger conservation landscape in the region.
The existing biological corridors in Bhutan were designed and delineated through a qualitative evaluation of landscape factors that drive the least-cost path to linkage mapping. However, the corridors need to be protected and managed effectively to overcome the impacts from changing land use practices and climate change. In addition, new corridors need to be designed for enhancing the conservation of biodiversity and linkages at the landscape level. Therefore, the periodic assessment of the existing network of biological corridors is critical for effective management, and designing new corridors will be essential in improving landscape connectivity.
There are many ways to design wildlife corridors – from sketching on habitat maps based on ground observations, to connecting preferred patches within the matrix of land use and land cover, to using elaborate geospatial modelling based on landscape characteristics that are conducive to wildlife movement and safeguarding critical ecological processes. Whatever tools, techniques, or approaches are adopted, the primary goal is to facilitate and complement in-depth interrogation into rationally linking fragmented habitats and creating a more permeable landscape. A modelling method is considered an appropriate first step to explore options, debate alternatives, and contemplate viable solutions under most plausible future scenarios.
This training will cover the basic preparatory phase of defining the scope and setting a proper context for corridor design, satisfying minimum input requirements. Participants will learn how to run a GIS model properly calibrated and validated to fit the desired linkage objectives, the geographic setting, and the bio-ecological elements and functions of interest in the landscape. The Circuitscape package of GIS tools will be used for corridor design and connectivity analysis to transfer basic skills in the application of geospatial modeling tools in exploring, assessing, and evaluating corridor designs for biological connectivity between islands of wildlife habitats and discrete protected areas in Bhutan. The case of the proposed JKSNR–PWS corridor will be used as an example for both lectures and hands-on exercises in the modeling process.
The primary purpose of this training is to develop the technical capacity of relevant officials and stakeholders in Bhutan to diagnose and reassess the current corridor network and redesign system of habitat and ecosystem linkages. The training will also enable trainees to gain a better understanding of connectivity concepts and data, along with the basic knowledge and skills required to set up and run Circuitscape Linkage Mapper.
The specific objectives of the training are as follows:
Upon completion of the training, participants will be equipped with basic skills in connectivity modeling, mapping process, and translating results. The institutional capability of partner agencies will also be enhanced to plan and implement conservation activities in the biological corridor.
A total of 45 representatives from the protected areas and divisional forest offices under the DoFPS, MoAF, Royal Government of Bhutan, will be participating in the training.
A basic knowledge of GIS is recommended to complete the hands-on exercises. Participants will need access to a computer and reliable internet connectivity during the course.
The online training will be conducted over four days via Microsoft Teams. Each day will include at least four hours of online sessions with course trainers and participants, followed by activities that will be completed offline by each participant.
Pre-training assessment of participants will be done through short online surveys once the list of participants is confirmed. At the end of the training, participants will be given group exercises for developing new or realigning existing corridors, taking advantage of new and updated information, scientific advances, and innovations in tools and approaches. The groups will report back after a month with the results of their respective corridor connectivity assignment to deliberate further on their learning and experiences. The class will reconvene for a one-day session.
17–20 August 2021 | Microsoft Teams
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