The National Plant Protection Centre (NPPC) in collaboration with the WWF Bhutan organized one-day training on human wildlife Safe System approach of WWF at the NPPC conference hall on 18 April 2016. The training was welcomed by the Offtg. Program Director, Dr. Thinlay and the Chief Agriculture Officer of the Department of Agriculture, Mr. Chimi Rinzin provided the opening remarks. The participants from WCD, RDC-Bhur, Bajo, Yusipang, WWF Bhutan and WWF Nepal attended the training. The donor, WWF Finland also attended the morning session of the training. Media from the BBS and Kuensel visited to collect the news.
The training is the first activity of the project “Human-Wildlife Conflict Management and Improving Food Security in Bhutan” of the NPPC, supported by the WWF Finland through WWF Bhutan. The project is based on the concept of Safe System approach of WWF developed by Dr. Ashley Brooks of WWF Tiger Alive Initiative. The concept is successfully implemented in Southeast Asia while it’s being tried for the first time in South Asia and Bhutan is fortunate to be the first country to receive the implementation of the concept.
All over the world, actions on conflict management can be grouped in either of these categories: Policy, Prevention, Mitigation, Understanding the Conflict, Response and Monitoring. In Bhutan, our focus mostly has been in the Prevention side with some measures on Policy and Mitigation. Without addressing all the six elements in parallel, the conflict can’t be adequately addressed.
In Bhutan, Preventive measures included like sound and light repellent, bio-fences, trenches, electric fencing and traditional methods of control. However, all these measures have been reactive in nature focusing on the symptoms of conflict in isolation and lacked clear long-term direction and strategy for monitoring and progress. The Safe System addresses deficiencies in the current approach of conflict management.
The Safe System is nothing but an approach that’s holistic and long-term and that considers the landscape in totality rather than in isolation and separated. It’s a site and context specific and recognizes the importance of people and their assists, wildlife and their habitat to build a safe co-existence and living in harmony with nature.
The one-day training on Safe System approaches provided participants about the concept and how assessment can be done in the 5 parameters of Safe System (monitoring, people, assets, wildlife, and habitat). The resource person, Dr. Ashley Brooks who provided the training drew success stories from other countries where Safe System has been implemented. One such example is Kui Buri National Park, Thailand where the conflict management has been done without the use of electric fencing.
Towards the afternoon, mock session was conducted to familiarize the participants with the Rapid Assessment Tool which was followed by Q & A session. Rapid Assessment contains a suite of questions on the 5 elements of Safe System, which is further broken down to criteria. Based on the questions and criteria met during consultations, a score is calculated and weak areas are determined, where then the possible interventions measures are discussed with the stakeholders.
Before the conclusion of the training, the Coordinator from the NPPC shared the tour plan for the Dzongkhags and Geogs to conduct the stakeholder consultations on the Safe System and develop a strategy for the project site using the Rapid Assessment Tool. There are 4 Dzongkhags covered by the Project, viz., Wangduephodrang, Trongsa, Zhemgang and Mongar. The Project is a very short-term and ends in December 2016.
The support of WWF to agriculture on human-wildlife conflict and food security is the first of its kind in the country. Historically, WWF has been supporting in the field of conservation and development of biological corridors, parks and protected areas in the country.