A team comprising of officials from Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation (BTFEC), National Soil Services Centre (NSSC), Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) and independent consultant visited Wangphu Gewog under Samdrup Jongkhar Dzongkhag on 29 January 2018 to meet with the SLP adopters. The project in the Gewog is one of the SLM projects implemented by NSSC with financial support from BTFEC to work towards achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN) status by 2030.
The main purpose of the visit was to meet with the BTFEC project beneficiaries, and raise awareness on the importance and benefits of sustainable land management in combating land degradation and achieving Land Degradation Neutrality. Further to urge the beneficiaries to implement the project activities as per the project work plan to avoid any problems later on.
Bhutan is among the 112 countries that committed to set national land degradation neutrality (LDN) targets. LDN is a global commitment to maintain and increase the amount of healthy and productive land resources. Achieving a land-degradation-neutral world is as per the Target 15.3 under the Sustainable Development Goal15: Life on Land.
Wangphu Gup, Tshogpas of five Chiwogs and around 40 farmers attended the meeting.
At the meeting, Dr Tshering Dorji (Project Focal) from the National Soil Service Centre (NSSC) briefed the gathering on the aims and objectives of the project and reported a brief status of the project activities. He also highlighted the significance of combating land degradation for enhancing local livelihood, climate resilience, and conserving natural environment. The BTFEC funded SLM project in Wangphu Gewog is targeted to benefit five chiwogs with over 400 households.
The Gup thanked NSSC for choosing Wangphu Gewog, which is one of the remotest Gewogs in the Dzongkhag as the project site. He said that the project would immensely help the Gewog to enhance agriculture production, increase resilience to climate change, and conserve natural environment through SLM practices. He also hopes to increase citrus production through SLM interventions; thus contributing to rural livelihood improvement.
The Gup thanked BTFEC for funding the project. He updated the gathering on progress of the project activities to date. He reported that project activities were well on track as per the plan and major activities will be carried out in summer of 2018. All required resources and manpower were put in place to kick-start the activities. In addition, the Tshogpas from each chiwog introduced their chiwog and presented a brief account of land degradation issues, need for SLM, and status of the project activities in their respective Chiwogs.
Dr Pema Chophyel, Director, BTFEC then highlighted significance of combating land degradation for sustaining their livelihood and also in ensuring sustainable management of natural environment. Representative from GNHC and Program Director of NSSC also highlighted the need for local leaders to prioritize land management in the upcoming national five-year plans.
The meeting concluded with Dr Tshering Dorji reminding the beneficiaries to prepare for major SLM activities in the coming summer months.