Management Effectiveness of Protected Areas in Bhutan 2022-2023
The Bhutan Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool Plus (Bhutan METT +) was developed in 2014 and implemented between 2014 and 2016 to assess the management effectiveness of the protected area network of Bhutan. After five years, Department of Forest and Park Services started the second assessment in 2021 to track the progress and identify gaps in management effectiveness and has been recently completed. An extra mile added to the current assessment includes the eight biological corridors, which were previously not assessed in the 2014-2016 assessment.
The results indicate that protected areas are well managed, and compared to 2016, the management effectiveness has improved overall.
The main findings of the assessment are as follows:
- The overall management effectiveness score for protected areas is 78.13%. This is an increase of 17.19% from 2016 assessment.
- The individual scores of the six elements of the IUCN WCPA framework for all protected areas are as follows:
-Context – 100%
-Planning – 80%
-Inputs – 66.08 %
-Process – 71%
-Outputs – 56%
-Outcome – 76%
- Among the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, Royal Manas National Park has the highest Management Effectiveness (ME) score at 88.66% and Royal Botanical Park (RBP) with the lowest at 73.89%. Among the biological corridors, BC5 has the highest score at 78.63% and BC2 with the lowest at 68.46%.
- All parks and wildlife sanctuaries exceeded the average ME score (78.13%), except RBP and all BCs scored less than the national average.
- On average, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are doing better than biological corridors, as indicated by the ME score. This is mainly due to the late operationalization of the BCs, the first conservation management plan of which was approved only in 2020 for BC 5.
- The overall score for the output element is recorded to be lower than the input and can be attributed to the lower scores from biological corridors. This is expected as the conservation management for biological corridors began as recent as 2020 when the first conservation management plan for BC5 was approved for implementation. Having said this, it is expected that gradually the output scores for BCs will improve over the coming years.
The findings are promising and indicate that protected areas are performing well in management. However, a lot needs to be done in biological corridors to bring it at par with national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. In many protected areas, especially biological corridors, outputs are well below input which calls for additional efforts that needs to be implemented to address this.