Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Green Hiker Campaign in Bhutan

On 27th September 2011, Green Hiker Campaign is launched in Bhutan by under the initiative of wwf-Bhutan in collaboration with Nature Recreation and Collaboration Division, Ministry of Agricultures and Forests and Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators.
This collaborative Enterprise was conducted to create awareness and educate about the eco-friendly and Responsible Tourism in beautiful but fragile Himalayan ecology.  The theme for Bhutan this year was ‘Taking Responsible Tourism to the Himalaya; be a green hiker’ under wider theme of ‘Saving Wetlands Sky High!’ aimed to protect and promote green tourism especially for Himalaya which are located more than 3,000 meter above the sea-level.
Bhutan is one of the five countries in Asia that emphasizes in green tourism. Other countries are India, China, Nepal and Bangladesh which shared the beauty and disaster of unpredictable Himalayas.  In Bhutan such initiatives would have never come in more right time when the nation puts a premium on Tourism as one of the leading income generators, and has set an ambitious target of bringing in 100,000 tourists by the end of 2011 which will mount an unprecedented pressure in our beautiful country.

At around 9’clock, around 80 volunteers from gathered at the clock tower at heart of capital of Bhutan. With green shirts and green caps, in front of few local media, the Green Hike was flagged. Then, we headed in four buses to Lamperi Botanical part to formally launch the Hike. In the midst of rare 28 species of 49 rhododendrons that thrive in Bhutan and other rare species surrounding a green lake, the launch was symbolic in harmony with the beauty of nature.
After launching of hike by Ms Ragini, Regional Programme Officer of WWF and few opening speeches Dr Karma Tshering, Chief Forestry Officer and Ms Sonam Choden, Senior Forest Officer, we divided into two groups. One group went to hike Rhododendron Green Trail Walk while others went for Serchu Nature Trail. The Serchu Nature Trail was an hour Hike observing the mysteries of nature. As a producer fron Bhutan Broadcasting Service, I decided to trail Serchu Nature Trail along with my sound man and cameramen whose generous size tortured him to its best.
My job was to document the historic and unique initiative that was developed in India and also to emphasize on dos and don’ts as a hiker. The codes of ethics on the part of hiker are necessary for responsible nature tourism. I tried my best to capture the moment and enact few things that are vital necessities to be genuine green hiker.
 After the hike, we had feedback and cleaning session. A student pointed out the trail should have proper signboard, more dustbins. He also observed that few trees are cut on way that could be symbolically detrimental to the first batch of green hiker’s motive.  Another guy pointed out that domestic animals wandering in and around that trail has harmed the trail when some hikers prefer to divert from the trail.

A tourist guide said that such initiative was appreciable and he was honored to be the part of it. He wanted to know whether they would be funded to partake in programme more frequently.  WWF-Bhutan’s Communication Officer, Ms Yangche pointed out it is too early to talk about www-F’s ability to fund but she would try to involve with ideas and initiatives.  However, Chief Forestry Officer, Dr Karma Tshering said if there is any good initiative, he feels that Tourism Council of Bhutan and Ministry of Agriculture and Forests may be able fund the initiatives.

With the Pledge to be Green Hiker, the campaign ended at around 3:30 pm.

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