Wetlands For a Sustainable Urban Future

Bhutan currently has 3 sites designated as wetlands of international importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of about 1,225 hectares.

Bhutan has named Gangtey-Phobji (Ramsar Site no. 2264) as its third and largest Wetland of International Importance. (Source: https://www.ramsar.org)

 

The Thimphu Mountain Biking Club and the Department of Forest and Park Services (DoFPS) celebrated World Wetland Day at Thimphu Eco Park yesterday.

The Watershed Management Division under DoFPS organised a biking race, fun run and cleaning campaign as an awareness program to commemorate the day.

The theme for the day was wetlands for a sustainable urban future this year. More than 40 participants took part in the event.

The Youth Development Fund and Thimphu Thromde have adopted the Thimphu Eco Park. The park has a large stretch of wetland harbouring diverse species of flora and fauna. It has around 130 plant species. The park is home to 61 percent herbaceous plant and 21 percent shrubs. The park also houses the endangered bird species such as the wood snipe.

Threats to wetlands in Bhutan

DoFPS’ focal person, Sonam Choden, said that there has been definite loss of wetlands over the years because of the wetland conversion. Marsh and streams are the most threatened in urban areas.

Bhutan currently has 3 sites designated as wetlands of international importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of about 1,225 hectares.

Choden said that the people from farming background are aware of the wetlands and their benefits. However, it is difficult to retain urban wetlands. In rural areas, road construction and other activities cause wetland fragmentation.

Advantages of having wetlands

Wetlands help to reduce flooding as it acts as sponges and absorb waters during heavy rainfall.

“Wetland helps replenish drinking water as they filter the water that seeps into it, improves urban air, water quality, and promote urban well-being.”

The general types of wetlands include lakes, rivers, springs, ponds, vernal pools, marshes, peat bogs and predominately waterlogged areas.

To study the stock and types of wetlands in the country, the DoFPS has prioritised national wetlands inventory and mapping.

Results of the Fun Run

In the Fun Run, Chimi Dema won the women’s above 18 category while Chimi Pelden Dorji won the below 17 category. Dawa Tshering came in first in the men’s above 18 category and Dorji Tshering won the below 17 category.

Chimi Dema, the lone female participant completed the bike race in 51 minutes 15 seconds. Tandin Wangchuk completed the race in 33 minutes 16 seconds and won the men’s above 18 category. Jamba Gyatsho Dorji completed the race in 36 minutes 58 seconds to win the below 17 category.Cyclists had to cover a distance of 9.6 kilometers.

 

By Nima (This article has been edited for the New Bhutan Times)

This article first appeared on Kuensel.

 

 


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