Contributed by Singay Dorji, Bhutan National Coordinator, GEF-SGP, UNDP
Two Community Based Organizations (CBOs), the Saling Sazhing Zinchong Detshen and the Bidung Water Catchment Protection Group joined together to lead this year’s celebration of World Day to Combat Desertification/Land Degradation at Tshektum, Tashigang,located in the eastern part of Bhutan. The Governor of Tashigang, Dasho Lungten Dorji, attended the day long land-management campaign, speaking on the importance and fragility of land and water resources and calling for united action towards the sustainable management of agricultural lands and other natural resources.
The CBOs are currently engaged in the implementation of projects focused on water catchment protection and land management under the Country Programme Landscape Strategy, “Restoring and Managing Landscapes in Gamri Watershed,” supported by the Community Development and Knowledge Management for the Satoyama Initiative (COMDEKS), funded by the Japan Biodiversity Fund, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and delivered through the GEF-Small Grants Programme (SGP).
This year’s theme, “Land belongs to the future, let’s climate proof it!,” calls for urgent collective support to protect healthy ecosystems and to manage productive land sustainably. In accordance with “World Day to Combat Desertification and Land Degradation” on June 17th, the CBOs brought over ten acres of agricultural land belonging to six households under Sustainable Land Management (SLM) practices. Over the next year, the CBOs will expand to bring more than fifty additional acres of agricultural land belonging to fifty-five households under SLM practices.
The practices focus mainly on live hedgerow establishment, which benefits households through improved soil fertility and agricultural productivity, and increases the availability of abundant fodder for cattle. Additional SLM practices seek to reduce the strain of overgrazing on the surrounding environment and boost household income generation through larger scale mustard production.
Participants of the land management campaign and the celebration of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Land Degradation included the farmers and Geog Administration of Bidung, representatives from GEF-SGP/COMDEKS UNDP, and the Royal Government of Bhutan’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forests’ Renewable Natural Resources-Research and Development Centre (RNR-RDC) Wengkhar, and the RNR staff of Trashignag Dzongkhag.
To learn more, please visit the COMDEKS country programme website for Bhutan here.