The sacred sites, century old dzongs and Lhakhangs in Bhutan have a new-found hope, plainly speaking in terms of fund for its upkeep.
As host nation of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a US$ 50mn contribution as a commitment that will channel much needed biodiversity investments into India and other developing nations that are finding it difficult to cover urgently needed investments in natural capital.
This will benefit Bhutan and its historical wealth since in November 2011, Bhutan, Nepal, India and Bangladesh signed a regional climate change adaptation declaration at the Climate Summit for a Living Himalayas to protect the region’s biodiversity, food, energy and water resources.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) International’s Executive Director of Conservation Lasse Gustavsson in the WWF news release said “To protect the Himalayas and other landscapes around the world WWF is asking governments at the CBD to commit to increasing domestic and international funding to help protect our planet’s most valuable natural assets.”
Under the auspices of this pact, inclusive of the long-standing monasteries in Bhutan, birthplace of Lord Buddha in Nepal, a mountain revered as the centre of the universe in Tibet, and majestic alpine lakes in India are among the many sacred natural sites in the Eastern Himalayas now comes under the protective umbrella.
“In the Eastern Himalayas, livelihoods and strong cultural traditions deeply depend on natural resources, making conservation an integral part life. For centuries such practices have helped ensure the conservation of wildlife and other and other natural resources that are highly threatened or extinct in other parts of Asia,” said WWF International’s Executive Director of Conservation Lasse Gustavsson.
“Part of this effort includes safeguards on traditional knowledge and the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, an essential component of good governance of natural resources,” he added.
Tariq Aziz, Leader of WWF’s Living Himalayas Initiative, said that combination of traditional beliefs and the application of government-backed modern trans-boundary climate adaptation frameworks also play a significant role in preserving the Eastern Himalaya’s fragile environment.
He said the near-pristine state of sacred sites in East Himalayan landscapes is a testament to how sacred places, beliefs and practices can aid conservation efforts. But frameworks that allow regional governments and civil society to work together offer an added edge that will help stem the impacts of climate change.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) defines sacred natural sites (SNS) as natural areas of special spiritual significance to peoples and communities. They include natural areas recognized as sacred by indigenous and traditional peoples, as well as natural areas recognized by institutionalized religions or faiths as places for worship and remembrance.
WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.