Environmental Education and Awareness program in Gangtey Goenpa

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Environmental Conservation is the responsibility of all people, from all walks of life.

gangtey monks2014-1As a part of imparting knowledge about the importance of environmental conservation and with the Royal Society for Protection of Nature’s mission of “inspiring personal responsibility and actively involvement of the people of Bhutan in the conservation of the Kingdom’s environment through education, research and sustainable livelihood opportunities” a one day environmental education and awareness program was conducted for the monks of Gangtey Goenpa in Phobjikha. A total of 30 monks and two teachers attended the program.

The program kicked off with the ‘Nuts game’. The game is normally played as an ice breaking session. Four volunteers participated while the rest of the participants observed the activity. This activity taught the participants about the sustainable use of natural resources and the natural phenomenon of regenerative capacity. The activity also taught the participants of the importance of cooperation and participation in sustainably using the natural resources.

The morning session included a series of power point presentations on general environmental status, Phobjikha Conservation Area Program, RSPN’s program and the importance of waste management. Participants were taught about the general meaning of environment and differences between natural and man-made environment and how the natural environment once destroyed takes long time to repair it. The importance of the conservation of Phobjikha valley with its significance; ecologically, culturally and economically was also presented to the participants. The program also included RSPN’s program in the country and in Phobjikha.

gangtey monks2014-2To generate interest and participation in the solid waste management, the importance of managing daily household waste by segregation at source and the 3 R rules (reducing, reusing and recycling) was taught. Participants collected waste around the monastery and learnt about different types of waste and their impacts in the environment.

After lunch, a hike around the valley was organized for the participants. Activities along the trail were, bird watching, sensing the wetland and general benefits of hiking. Before the start of the hike participants were reminded of dos and don’ts once outside to instill environmental ethics and behavior.

Along the trail participants learnt about the importance of forest preservation and the relations among all the living and non-living things in an ecosystem. Participants were instructed to imagine how the landscape would look like if there weren’t any trees.

Once the group reached at the wetland area, the importance and the functions of wetland in an ecosystem were taught. First the participants were instructed to close their eyes and take a deep breath and imagine the opposite of the smell. This made them to realize how the wetland purifies the air they breathe. They further learnt about how the wetland serves as a reservoir and slowly release the right amount of water in the waterways and which benefit settlements downstream.  Next, they learnt about the wetland being home for wide varieties of birds, mammals, amphibians, fish and insects and most importantly for the vulnerable Black-necked Cranes.gangtey monks2014-2

As a part of concluding the program, participants shared their views and lessons learnt from the program. Most of the participants felt that the one day program has enriched their knowledge about the importance of environmental conservation and most importantly the wetland conservation in the valley.

Participant made a commitment each for the conservation of the environment; disposal of waste at the designated areas, refrain from unnecessary cutting of trees, share knowledge among the communities of the importance of conservation, etc.

Reported by Jigme Tshering, Field Coordinator, Phobjikha