Saturday, May 10, 2014

Faces of Ethnobiology: Jigme Dorji

I am Jigme Dorji from Bhutan. I work for Royal Manas National Park, Department of Forests and Park Services. 

I have been trained as a forester. I studied Graduate Diploma in Environment Management and Development from Australian National University, Canberra. Recently, I have completed my Bachelors Degree in Forestry from the College of Natural Resources, Royal University of Bhutan.

As a professional forester, the three key words that describe my work are Environment, People and human-wildlife conflict. The environment conservation in Bhutan is top priority and the mandate to protect and safeguard environment lies with the Department of Forests and Park Services. The constitution of Bhutan mandates maintaining 60% total geographical land under forest covers for all times to come. The people are integral part of the nature and all the parks in Bhutan have people living inside the boundary. The respect for traditional rights to use natural resources and improve rural income is very important for the success of environment conservation. Where the people and nature coexist, the human-wildlife conflict is inevitable consequences. In the park that I work, crop depredation by wild ungulates is very common though livestock depredation is occasionally reported. On the other hand, land encroachment, poaching and forest fire are major challenges that almost all the protected areas in Bhutan face.

I am born to a farming family and grew up in rural

environment. I have spent most of my childhood life in the village and got chance to experience hardship living in remote place where modern facilities were out of reach. Farming was only source of livelihoods. The education for children was next priority than having a farm labour. Fortunately or unfortunately I could go to school at the age of 12. But more importantly, spending my youth in village taught me more than an education in schools. The traditional practices, local belief, customary laws, social coherence, inherent love for nature are some the factors that influenced to me choose my career as Forester.

Currently I am working on Community based Ecotourism in
Royal Manas National Park. This initiative is aimed at improving livelihoods of the local community by way of creating opportunities to sale their products and services directly to tourist. This in turn is expected to reduce poverty and thereby reducing their dependency on park’s natural resources. My immediate future plan is to do a Masters Degree.

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