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Conservation activists express concern

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, June 26 - For the tenth time since 2008, delegates representing the governments of Bhutan and India, along with conservation NGOs of the region met in Guwahati on June 21 and 22 to discuss �Conservation of Biodiversity - Issues and Opportunities� in the large trans-boundary landscape between India and Bhutan across the international boundary from river Sankosh in the west to the river Dhansiri in the east, referred to as the Trans-boundary Manas Conservation Area (TraMCA).

The meeting saw the delegates taking stock of the status of implementation of the work plan developed for the region and also discussed the emerging issues, with special reference to proposed developmental activities having potential negative impact and continued anthropogenic pressure on the forest resources.

The delegates expressed concern at the ongoing deforestation activities in the TraMCA landscape and stressed the need for scaled-up government efforts to arrest deforestation on an urgent basis. Restoration of the denuded forest areas and their protection was also discussed as the only possibility of regaining lost habitats.

�Ecosystems are like Humpty Dumpty. If the balance is lost, it is lost forever. No amount of riches or power can bring it back,� DP Bankhwal, IG Forest, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Guwahati, said.

The meeting was also addressed by D Mathur, PCCF and HOFF, Assam, who appreciated the effort of the Indian and Bhutanese foresters in bringing the group together, which is now well recognised internationally. He also assured of all support to see its progress further.

A Swargowari, CHD, forest department of the Bodoland Territorial Council said that the TraMCA concept that had gained momentum during the last six years, is moving in the right direction due to efforts of all stakeholders.

The delegation from Bhutan, lead by Tenzin Wangchuk, Park Manager, Royal Manas National Park, expressed concern at the current and proposed developments in the landscape and emphasised further strengthening of the collaboration of the TraMCA partners to achieve its long-term goals.

At the meeting, a report on joint monitoring of tigers was also released by Mathur. The report presents the finding of joint monitoring of tigers in both Manas National Park, India and Royal Manas National Park, Bhutan.

The study was carried out during February-May 2015 simultaneously in India and Bhutan across the boundary by forest officials and researchers from Aaranyak

and WWF.

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