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Maintaining ecological resilience by linking protected areas through biological corridors in Bhutan

by on November 9, 2011

The article “Maintaining ecological resilience by linking protected areas through biological corridors in Bhutan” by Sangay Wangchuk discusses the efforts of Bhutan to conserve is wide variety of flora and fauna through various protected areas. Bhutan currently has 9 protected areas throughout the country encompassing approximately 6 different types of ecosystems (Subtropical, Temperate, Alpine, etc.). These protected areas are all interconnected by sections of land designated as biological corridors. These biological corridors allow for wildlife to travel from one protected area to another. The purpose of linking the protected areas is to increase environmental resilience. According to this article, resilience is “the magnitude of disturbance that can be absorbed or accommodated by an ecosystem before its structure is fundamentally changed to a different state.” (Wangchuk 2007) The assumption is the larger the area that wildlife has to roam, the greater the resilience of the ecosystem will be. I agree with this theory in stating that if wildlife has more land, then the possibilities for ecosystem resilience is greater. In the past, restricting the movements of animals has lead to issues of population and species extinction. Bhutan’s constitution, passed in 2008, designated an entire Article (V) to conservation. It states that 60% of the country must be under forest cover. Part of the reason this article was included is because of Bhutan’s rich history in Buddhism. Buddhist philosophy maintains reverence for all living things and this has lead to a conservation oriented constitution. The connecting of the protected areas and the law designed to maintain forest cover across the country is clearly effective for ecosystem conservation but it is hard to determine if this approach is feasible in more urban and densely populated areas.

Questions:
-Is Bhutan’s method of conservation only possible in countries like Bhutan or could more populated countries benefit from incorporating this conservation model into their own policies?

-Does the connecting of the protected areas actually increase the potential of ecosystem resilience?

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7 Comments
  1. After reading this article, I found myself agreeing with the ideas of Wangchuk. The idea of these “connected corridors” seems really interesting to me. I considered if the United States were to combine or link a number of national parks somehow, it would be similar to this. Obviously this idea is going to be much harder for the US. Certain characteristics make this theory seemingly impossible to occur in the United States. Without the presence of 70+% forest cover landscape, or a natural environment as large or substantial, it would be very difficult to preserve such a large area, especially from our expanding society and environment, in turn making it “less natural”. Bhutan’s constitutional laws force the country to keep strict environmental policies, greatly preserving and conserving the land. Finally, there widespread mindset/mentality under the impact of Buddhism even plays a very important role on how the Bhutan people view and conserve their environment, shaping ideology.

  2. These corridors are definitely a good idea. I agree that more space would make an environment more stable, and having a safe area that connects the protected areas, these corridors, would definitely improve this. Another thing to consider is that in environments with larger variety and populations of species, the larger the space needed to support them. So I do think that more space is better and again, these corridors help this as well. What Parker said is also true, it would help to have these corridors in other countries, but depending on the country, it could be hard or impossible. I’m sure it is possible to do this in other places.

  3. amygraceaustin permalink

    It is interesting that Wangchuk utilizes Holling’s definition of resilience in this article. It’s wonderful that in this country the resources exist to make the connection of protected areas available to roaming wildlife. However, I don’t believe this model can be universally reproduced. The idea of a resilient, all-encompassing ecosystem runs contrary to my inherent perceptions of what an ecosystem is. When I think of an ecosystem I think of the animals that live up in the mountains, then I think about the animals that live on the plains in Colorado and how those are different than the animals that live up in Wyoming versus the animals that live in coastal climates in various parts of the US. To me, an ecosystem inherently involves boundaries: where one ends another one begins. I am not questioning the success of this model in Bhutan, but rather am I extrapolating in my own mind how culturally charged my own definition of an ecosystem is.

  4. The only perfect solution to your first question, in my opinion, would be to remove people for the equation, however that is impossible. I do think that with a larger population more could be done to help preserve these areas. My question is, would that be a good idea to keep so much of an area under a large amount of cover. We need resources, yet we need to preserve our resources for younger generations.

    “The assumption is the larger the area that wildlife has to roam, the greater the resilience of the ecosystem will be. I agree with this theory in stating that if wildlife has more land, then the possibilities for ecosystem resilience is greater.” I also agree with this, however I think that a more resilient ecosystem would draw more attention from the world greatest predators, Humans, and eventually the cycle would repeat itself.

  5. Summer Rose W permalink

    The connecting of protected areas does have positive influence and increases the resilience of the ecosystem. This must be true because the largest remaining contiguous forested area has “the richest assemblage of wildlife in Southeast Asia” according to a World Bank report on Ecosystem changes (Convenient Solutions to an Inconvenient Truth: Ecosystem‐based Approaches to Climate Change. June 2009).

    When there is no connection between protected areas, animals have no freedom to roam where they wish. I believe the stress to animals from living in small areas can have negative effects on ecosystems.

  6. Megan Powell permalink

    My first thought regarding the connecting corridors between preserved areas is, how much has this technique really been proven to increase the resilience of the protected areas? My intuitive thoughts lead me to the conclusion that this needs to be complemented with other techniques to enhance the ecosystem’s resilience. Then I’m lead to the question of how much can we really do to do this (increase resilience)? Or maybe the focus is just not to break down the resilience an ecosystem already has…

  7. Benjamin N. permalink

    The idea of the corridors is one that makes me uneasy. The corridors are, by nature, limiting the natural home range for wildlife, and might completely throw off the ecosystem in the long run. I think it’s a decent concept, but it’s one that hasn’t been proven effective. Bhutan is taking a big risk by limiting the ranges of their animals, it will be interesting to see what effects it has in the long run, and might serve as a useful tool to determine whether or not this is a practical solution for conservation.

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