Revising greenbelt in south Bhutan

southern BhutanBhutanese officials are contemplating to revise the three-decade old policy of greenbelt along the southern border with India under the disguise of environment conservation.

Addressing ‘Elephant Talk – Asian Elephants in the Wild: a Dialogue’ held in Assam on Thursday, Palijor J Dorjee, Special Advisor to National Environment Commission suggested formation of an uninterrupted green corridor — as part of enhanced trans-border cooperation in conservation — by according protection to the contiguous belts of forests.

This, in fact, had been conceived decades back but failed to materialise due to donors unwilling to support the project as it displaces a large number of citizens from the residence.

The two-day dialogue was organised by Balipara Foundation, which aimed at finding solutions for diffusing man-elephant conflicts in Bhutan-India-Myanmar.

Dorjee and Sonam Wangdi from the Department of Forest and Park Services, Bhutan, said that notwithstanding strict laws for protection of wildlife habitat, the man-elephant conflict was being witnessed in the country, especially in areas bordering India.

“The conflict intensifies during the period from March to September coinciding with the cropping season. Paddy is harvested in September, and the elephants give a helping hand to the farmers,” Wangdi said.

Stating that Bhutan jungles shelter some 800 elephants across an elephant habitat of 2,000 sq, Wangdi said that elephants were known to move up to altitudes as high as 3,000 metres.

Dorjee who has been the initiator of many conservation programmes in Bhutan said that the matter of establishing a green corridor connecting the forests of Bhutan, India and Myanmar should again be taken up.

“It failed to materialise because lack of political will forced the donors to back out. But we can again think on similar lines. This can go a long way in securing elephant habitats and their contiguity, and can be a long-term answer to the man-elephant conflict,” he said.

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