- Date: February 17, 2009
- In This Story:
In December 2008 the government of Bhutan declared Wangchuck Centennial Park, the country’s tenth and second-largest park. Bhutan is the only place on Earth where the habitat of the snow leopard and mighty tiger intersect.
WWF was intimately involved in establishing the new park and contributed to the surveys and development of the preliminary management plan. Wangchuck enlarges the Bhutan Biological Conservation Complex (BBCC) – a conservation landscape of all protected areas linked with forest corridors in the country.
Making room to roam
Wangchuck Centennial Park increases Bhutan’s protected area system to conserve nearly half of the country. As part of the BBCC, the new park will connect the two existing parks lying to its east and west. This creates a contiguous protected zone covering the entire northern frontier of the country – and connecting to the Sacred Himalayan Landscape in India and Nepal in the west, and to India’s Western Arunachal Landscape in the east. This connectivity facilitates the natural movements of endangered species that live inside the park such as tigers, snow leopards, Himalayan black bear and Tibetan wolves.
Because of climate change, the park’s glaciers are melting – with the associated risks of flooding from runoff and glacial lake outburst. Preliminary data suggests that smaller glaciers and snow-fed lakes are drying up. It is also evident that glaciers are retreating faster, possibly leading to insufficient water for natural systems and human use.
Human threats to the park’s ecosystems come from a lack of pastureland management. In the last few decades the number of cattle has increased, causing the surrounding forests to be cleared to create additional land for grazing. Direct threats to wildlife include poaching for trade, and retaliatory killings to safeguard livestock and property.
WWF in the region
For more than 30 years WWF has protected Bhutan’s natural heritage, and is the only international conservation organization with a permanent presence in Bhutan. WWF will continue our collaboration with the royal government to address Bhutan's economic and environmental needs while engaging and raising the technical capacity of its local people through education.
WWF is working at all levels throughout the Eastern Himalayas to restore and protect ecological processes, reduce the human footprint, and support local economies. By working closely with the governments and people of Bhutan, Nepal and India, we continue to build on our landscape-wide conservation experiences.