On July 6th, 2023, the Regional Bhutan Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics Forum was held, organized by the Balipara Foundation in partnership with Conservation International and regional partners in Bhutan, the Bhutan Ecological Society and Bhutan Trust Fund for Environment Conservation. The forum brought together 30 stakeholders from NGOs such as WWF Bhutan, Bhutan Foundation, and Bhutan for Life, as well as the Ministry of Agriculture & Livestock and the Department of Forests Parks and Services and small grant Programme beneficiaries from Zhemgang, Trongsa, Wangdiphodrang, Punakha, and Paro. The participants discussed Bhutan’s successful efforts to protect its forests and minimize the impact on its natural ecosystems through various initiatives and collaborations.

The vision of the Regional Bhutan Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics Forum focussed on looking at the agenda for the ‘Great People’s Forest of the Eastern Himalayas.’ This initiative aims to find solutions for rewilding forests and terrestrial ecosystems, implementing regenerative agroforestry, and supporting community-led conservation efforts in the Eastern Himalayan region, particularly in Bhutan. The initiative intends to identify and support these solutions through support for scaling impact.

During the Regional Forum, discussions focused on opportunities for large-scale restoration plans, existing policies that support restoration efforts, and the challenges hindering the achievement of such large-scale restoration. The participants explored potential avenues and collaborations to overcome these obstacles. Dr. Karma Tshering from the Bhutan Trust Fund for Environment Conservation initiated the discussion by emphasizing the importance of collaborations and partnerships in opening new opportunities for Bhutan and scaling up solutions for people and the environment. Jason Knauf, a Global Fellow at Conservation International, emphasized the need to bring Bhutan and the Eastern Himalayas’ conservation efforts to the global agenda and consciousness.

The Balipara Foundation, which has spent 12 years building relationships in the region through its platform for rewilding solutions, the Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics™ Forum, convened this initiative. Inspired by the diverse and innovative solutions in the region, the foundation believes it is the right time to collaborate with other organizations in the region to collectively rewild landscapes with local communities. This collective effort aims to address the challenges posed by the climate and biodiversity crisis in the region.

The team leading this initiative benefits from the experience of Conservation International in launching and managing region-wide funds and strategies for scale, as well as the expertise of partner organizations in developing and managing large-scale projects alongwith government stakeholders.