The Bhutan BirdLife Society (BBLS) conducted an assessment and monitoring of Important Bird Areas (IBA) and found that Thimphu, Shaba, Chelela, Lhuentse and Samtse are the most degraded areas.
IBA is an area identified as important for the conservation of bird populations on the basis of a set of internationally recognized criteria.
There are 23 IBAs in the country mapped by the Royal Society for Protection of Nature in 2004.
Thimphu and Paro Wetlands, Lake Ada or Punatsangchhu, Bumdeling Wildlife Reserve, Chelela, Phobjikha and Khatekha Valleys, Royal Manas National Park, among others, are some of the IBAs in the country.
The BBLS evaluated the IBAs in June of this year.
A BBLS official said the most degraded area among the four areas assessed is Thimphu. “The expansion of the city has caused the degradation of the bird area,” he said.
When the IBA assessment was conducted in 2004, there were wetlands in Thimphu that were home to birds such as snipe, the official said. “These wetlands are now occupied by houses. “
Snipe breeds in moist alpine meadows and bogs, and overwinter in ponds and forest swamps. The bird species is classified as vulnerable on the Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
“It is not possible to restore the IBA of Thimphu due to the existing settlements. Much of the swampy areas to house the birds are no longer, ”the official said.
The alternative is to create a new habitat for the birds, he said.
Tshalumaphey in Babesa has been recognized as an area to create new habitat for birds.
The official said the BBLS was consulting a botanist to see what type of plant or tree would be suitable for Tshalumaphey’s 10 acres of land. “Even though we don’t see birds like the wood snipe in the area, it would provide habitat for other birds in the future.”
Another important IBA is in Shaba as it is home to many water and migratory birds, as well as birds new to Bhutan, the official said.
“The BBLS is negotiating with the relevant agencies to ensure that there is less disturbance to waterbirds in Shaba,” he said.
As part of the project, BBLS will also publish an update on the status and national distribution of birds in Bhutan that would serve as a field guide for bird watchers.
The official said efforts to restore the IBA are important for conserving bird species, promoting tourism and increasing the interest of young people in birds.
BBLS is a conservation society that focuses on the conservation of birds in Bhutan, as well as the protection of their habitats and IBA in the country.
Edited by Tshering Palden