English | Dzongkha Sunday, May 16, 2021

Cordyceps collection, encroachment challenge…

Kipchu, Bumthang.
Jun 23, 2019

Illegal collectors of Cordyceps in Bumthang have been adding more pressure on the alpine environment and also have been affecting the highlanders of Chhoekhor Gewog.

This is according to the Chhoekhor Gewog Administration, which has now started implementing measures to strictly verify the identity of the collectors.

Cordyceps collection season is almost coming to an end in Chhoekhor Gewog, Bumthang. The collectors will return home in a few days time. This year more than a thousand collectors climbed the high alpine mountains to collect the prized fungus. Each year, more people are involved in Cordyceps collection in Bumthang but some, illegally. The current regulation allows only 3 persons from each household of the gewog to go for collection but there are reports that people from other gewogs and other districts have been encroaching the collection areas designated for the people of Chhoekhor Gewog.

“The Gewog administration has received several verbal complaints from the highlanders saying that people from other gewogs who illegally collect Cordyceps burn the shingles of their huts as firewood which is causing them huge problems, ” said Sangay Thinley, the Mangmi of Chhoekhor, Bumthang.

Besides adding pressure on the environment, people say increasing illegal collectors can also potentially affect the sustainability of Cordyceps in the alpine mountains.

“In Chhoekhor Gewog, 3 chiwogs are heavily reliant on the sale of Cordyceps for their livelihoods. If the number of collectors is not monitored properly, this will even affect the sustainability of the fungus and in turn the livelihoods of the people of the 3 chiwogs,” he added.

However, starting this year, the Chhoekhor Gewog Administration has started issuing permits to only those who come to the gewog office personally. In the past, collectors used to send a representative to collect their permits.

“We have stopped issuing the permits to those who do not come to the gewog office during the permit-issuing meeting. This is done mainly to verify their identities and deter illegal collectors from encroaching our territories,” he also added.

Likewise, to minimize the impact on the environment, the Wangchuck Centennial Park (WCNP) has been initiating a waste management programme called the Garbage In, Garbage Out to curb waste issues in the Cordyceps collection region since last year. The initiative requires the collectors to bring all the food wrappers and other items they take to the collection areas back to the park office. The park is also encouraging the collectors to use gas cylinders and kerosene to minimize the usage of alpine shrubs for firewood. People are also made aware of the Cordyceps collection by-laws by the gewog administration in collaboration with WCNP officials.

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