Sunday, 31 December 2017

Thank you 2017; Happy New Year 2018

After numerous travels, I am glad to be finally back in Greifswald, a home away from home. 2017 has been unique phase of my life that it was a maiden year away from my mom. For that matter my social interactions were also limited and for my friends and relatives, my point of contact was always virtual. I am glad that 2017 have been spectacular without much agonies but filled with cherishing memories of merriment. I remain thankful to all my friends and relatives for their lovely unwavering supports. 

2017 has been rewarding for the efforts I have put and I remain grateful to my professional guardians both at home and in the university for their trust and rendering their appealing recommendations. 2017 added more value to my professional expertise and I am glad to have invested in personal profiling with support from well wishers. 

2017 is deep immersion into academics. Together with my LENC classmates, learning was always spontaneous with some doses of party and fun in between. Specially in a far away place without any fellow countrymen, my LENC mates are more than friends. Thank you all for being together always. 

2017 is also a landmark in my travel diary with visit to numerous cities around Europe and with last leg of Euro tour completed with visit to my friends in Vienna, where moments of our togetherness were unusually great. I already miss the good company I had with them and will always remember their great hospitality and companionship. As 2017 comes to an end, I am glad to be at my home, safe and sound, warm and cosy, so thank you 2017 before I bid you farewell. 

2018 will be just another year but I see more challenges coming. Please be kind with me and every sentient beings. 


Sunday, 24 December 2017

Destination Europe IX: Trip to Poland

21: Warsaw: My trip to Warsaw was in October 30th. Unlike all my Euro tours, my trip to Warsaw was different in a sense that I was accompanied by my colleagues from the University. However the weather in Warsaw was bad. Bad to such an extent that there was a severe storm causing extensive disruption in railways and causing some deaths due to environmental misshapes. However we were lucky to have had a good glimpse of Warsaw old town during our second day. Some snaps taken at Warsaw.

Happy Birthday WeFie

Good thing about Warsaw is that the city is very cheap. Be it in public transport services or in restaurants and hostels, the rates are very cheap as compared to Germany, which makes Poland an easy destination for travelers. Pierogi is considered a national dish of Poland so my friend ordered a plate of Fungi Pierogi, which basically is like dumpling or momo. It was a good experience to eat momo in a faraway place. I didnt knew but later came to learn that one of our friend was having her birthday, which gave us a good reason to have some toast of cake with happy birth day greetings. It wasn't so well prepared one though. 

I was told by my other friends that city of Krakow is much beautiful than Warsaw but for me I am glad to have checked in the capital city of Poland. 

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Destination Europe VIII: Trip Italy Part II

18. Florence: The "cradle of renaissance" Florence is little more than 3 hours by bus from Padua, where I halted my last night after visiting the floating city of Venice. While in Florence, since I had only a half day, I make a random stroll through the city doing sightseeing. With limited time in hand, the best one can do is climb up to the Piazzale Michelangelo square and have a sizzling panoramic view of the city of Florence with its river Argo calmly flowing by its side. In the evening, since it is summer, days are long so its always fun to walk the streets, buy a beer and sit beneath the shades of the tall cathedral.
View of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo

Florence and River Arno

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
19. Pisa: The next day I moved to Pisa only to have a glimpse of the leaning tower of Pisa. Once recorded as one of the seven wonders of world, every body know that the tower of Pisa leans but only by visiting the site does one realize how breathtaking the tall leaning tower is like. There are two beautiful churches near by it so for people having deep faith in churches, there is more than leaning tower at Pisa.

Leaning tower with two nearby churches

57 m Tower leans with 3.99 degree

20: Rome: I should have returned from Venice rather than spending more  money in travelling to other cities of Italy. But the famous quotes like "Rome was not Built in a day" and "While in Rome, do as Romans do" and vague histories that I heard of the great Roman empire tempted me to travel further south. Rome, the capital city of Rome has nearly 3000 years history of globally influential arts, architecture and cultural display. I just had a one single day in Rome so I made a point to visit all the points of interests in Rome. But this time, I had keen interest in the ancient ruins of the Roman Empire so made a paid visit to the Roman Forum, and the great Roman Colosseum. Vatican city, the headquarters of Roman catholic church and the smallest country of the world lies within the Rome.

Colosseum side view

The great Colosseum of Rome

Ancient Rome in Ruins and Present Rome City

Rome as seen from Roman Empire

Ruins of the Empire

Inside Colosseum 

Near the Spanish Steps

Vatican City Church. 

Friday, 22 December 2017

Global Landscapes Forum at Bonn: A Gratifying Attendance

International forums and conferences are not only a great opportunity for the scientists and researchers to present their works but also an important platform for the students and general public who are keen to learn new things, discuss over the ideas and issues with experts and to establish network with like-minded people. I first attended an international congress in 2014 at home and it gave me all the reasons why I should attend more in the years to come. It was the 14tInternational Society of Ethnobiology (ISE) congress organized by Ugyen Wangchuck Institute of Conservation and Environment based in Bumthang and I had the privilege to participate in it taking an important role. I was co-leading pre-congress workshop for "Mountain Indigenous Peoples" and later had an oral presentation on Monpas during the congress, the proceeding of which is published in an European online journal. It was also a great opportunity for me to meet new people, make new friends, have lots of fun and most importantly, learn something new. Later on in 2016, I had a chance to attend Third Asian Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation at Delhi, a reward to my field work in the field of tiger conservation in my own little ways. Each conference gives you some ideas to take back (many I forget), which I can later incorporate in my works. As such to attend on such forum is really a great privilege. 
GLF2017Bonn Plenary in Session. source: GLF

Global Landscapes Forum is in Bonn on 19-20th December 2018. I knew about this event quite a long time before when I was browsing for some Landscape related information being a Landscape Ecology student. I figured out that youths are planning to be part of the great even through Youth in Landscape Initiatives and had already formed a facebook group. They were two steps ahead of me, but I am glad I raced behind them and got into the group. And later, 100 free tickets were offered for students for which we were required to submit our interests statement. I did my part and I was glad, I got a ticket, which took me to the city of Bonn through yet exciting travel story. 

Me and my colleague from Greifswald Uni

Two days through the event, I should say it was one of the best memories of my stay in Germany (I wish the best of the best do come though). It was a platform from where positive vision of what the world's landscapes can look like if we work together, emitted its rays. It was hard for me to decide which discussion forum to attend as three major sessions and many other side events run parallel. Themes were varied, though they have tear down the fences of landscapes to connect to our backyards. 

All in all, I have the feeling that the event in Bonn had a deep discourse on sustainable landuse through landscape restoration. This is particularly pertinent considering the fact reported in Global Land Outlook 2017 by UNCCD, that over 20% of the earths vegetated surfaces are persistently degrading in productivity. "Biodiversity loss and climate change further jeopardize the health and productivity of land. Over 1.3. billion people are trapped on degrading agricultural land." The report states. The discussion forums therefore had a good deliberation over various innovative ideas and plans to restore degraded landscapes with Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) actions and Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) prorgammes. Many of such programme are indeed already in action with success stories and current actions coming all the way from Indonesia and African nations. I am glad to have made several tweets taking some keynotes from the speakers. 

Here are some of my key tweets: 
"Productive forest Landscapes are essential for fulfilling basic needs of growing populations and providing global, national and local services: must be supplied like food." #ITTO
"Small scale farmers are true essence of rural communities, and they are the backbone of humanity. We have to build sustainable future through Land Degradation Neutral actions."  
"Sustainable landscapes are integral to achieving two goals of humanity: Ending poverty and Ensuring prosperity."
"Landscape, the single stone that kill three birds: Climate Change, Biodiversity Loss and Pollution"
"Man and biosphere can't be separated. That's all sustainability is about."  
"The future of humankind is decided first and foremost at rural areas."  

Calling for self consciousness rather prescribing people what has to be done, Sadhguru, if had a power to change one thing, then he said, it is humans. "Other than human, everything is in perfect condition." He said. He had been "planting trees in people's mind for over six years before he started to transplant them on land, to increase the green cover in India", in his rally to clean the rivers in India. I was deeply intrigued by his visions and inspirations and more than anything, glad to hear his real voice directly into my ears. I am at the verge of losing my youthfulness but was also amazed to see the energy and zeal in the youths of current era. They are innovative, informed, talented, enthusiastic to create rally and start movements for making this world a better place, the true actions which I have seen and heard while in Bonn.  

The event was attended in person by over 1000 person from 104 nations and probably I was the lone Bhutanese (since I didn't meet any Bhutanese during the event). But Global Landscape Forum is going to be held for another couple of years in Bonn with strong partnership between various organizations so there is only opportunity awaiting for those who are interested in attending the great event. For me, it was enriching and gratifying attendance and I look forward to attend again. 

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Professional Training to Enhance Professionalism in Conservation.

Short-term professional training courses are vital not only for the agencies to enhance their efficacy but also for the personal growth of an individual professionally to become even more valued member of the team. Occasional participation of the employees in various need-based professional training will also prepare him/her for professional advancement within the agency, which helps tackle the issues arising within the agency. In Bhutan, we are lucky have our visionary monarchs who have provided unprecedented leadership to take the country forward. Within our civil service, we are more lucky to have this system of nurturing the employees by giving them opportunity to pursue numerous workshops and training both within and outside the country. Such need of professional development are recognized by His Majesty the King himself and gives more emphasis on individual professionalism and leadership as stated "What we need is not a leader to lead the masses - we need leadership of the self." Realizing the need to regularly update the professional knowledge of the individuals in the the complicated, globalized and sophisticated world, and to tackle the emerging challenges with innovative ideas and solutions, Bhutan are lucky to have institution such as Royal Institute for Governance and Strategic Studies established as envisioned by His Majesty the King, which now provide high quality education and discourses to our leaders at different stages. Therefore, there is no denying to the fact that professional development opportunities of varying degree is necessary for every individual in the agency.  

When I first joined my professional career as Forestry Officer at JSWNP after my undergraduate studies, the first task assigned to me was take up managing the then existing conservation project. The professional knowledge that I obtained from the University were diverse but were mostly related to my field of study, that is Forestry. I doesn't have a vague idea of how project should be managed, its reporting protocols, the monitoring and evaluation and most importantly maintaining the much needed healthy relationship between donor and our agency. Constant guidance from the immediate leader is deemed necessary to get myself groomed and nurture into an effective employee. My boss, realizing the paramount role that I was playing in managing the conservation project, have given me the opportunity to enhance my professional knowledge in species conservation and monitoring at the Smithsonian Institutions in USA in my second year of service. 

While initially I was only excited to go out and get better exposure, I instantly realized the investment that is being put in me, I could feel the heavy weight coming along with the opportunity. I was also given with the privilege to get myself trained in Tiger radio collaring process at a Wildlife Sanctuary in Thailand by the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environmental Research, but unfortunately our implementation of the same failed back at home despite our rigorous and enthusiastic effort to radio collar tiger for a month in Royal jungle of Manas. Hon'ble Director General of the Department was also being farsighted enough to have young officers attend the dialogue of conservation when I was a part of delegation lead by HE the Agriculture and Forests Minister during the 3rd Asian Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation. Besides, I also availed many in country training and workshops within the short duration of three and half year service. Being an early career conservationist, the professional training were a strong impetus for me to perform  better, and I have the contentment that I gave my best professional commitment, of course excepting certain degree of follies in my working nature. Personally, each training and certification were always a way to built up my resume and get myself advanced with more value addition. 

Today I am glad to have attended a professional training offered by the esteemed Durrell Conservation Academy, an institution that strives to save species from extinction. Since my first hands on job entailed dealing with conservation projects, I was very keen to attend this course and I am glad I could make to it. The course was designed to strengthen the project management and leadership skills of conservation and natural resource professionals. The five day training held at the much David Attenbough building of Cambridge Conservation Initiatives touched various aspects of personal leadership and management skills, team forming and team decision, project formulation, monitoring and evaluation, risk management and dealing with failures, and many more important aspects. It helped me look back into my past experiences for contemplation and incorporate the new lessons in my upcoming research projects. The course shows direction to early career conservationists for for managing and leading conservation projects. 

I was able to attend this training through the financial support rendered by German Bhutan Himalaya Society and I remain indebted to its members, who are more than Friends of Bhutan. My special thanks are due to Mr. Reinherd Wolf, the President of the Society for facilitating with my proposition. I also thank the course instructors from Durrell and Fauna & Flora International for being so generous in sharing their expertise.  

Upcoming quality professional training can be found at (click on the links) Smithsonian Institutions and Durrell Conservation Academy.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Destination Europe VII: Trip Italy Part I

Italy is the much sought travel destination by tourists from all over the world. The deep cultural history like the Roman Empires, the wide array foods like pastas, the artistic beauty of art and architecture, the ambient natural beauty, the renowned scenes and plots in Shakespeare's plays, the friendly people and of course being not too expensive are the reasons cited by people visiting there. By the beginning of September, I was already a month in Stuttgart so I planned my next trip to Italy. I prefer travelling in Bus as it is much cheaper because most of the time I travel alone. Flix Bus is an inter city bus service from Germany, that have destination throughout Europe so it is very convenient to book and travel in that Green Bus. If we are travelling in group, we might be lucky enough to get group discounts in trains. Journey in train is much comfortable than in bus with more space. For the trip in Italy, because I planned to visit the major cities in Italy, I bought an InterFlix 5 city coupon for 99 Euros. By this, I can book five different journeys and it is advantageous when the cost of journey is over 20 Euro. 

15. Verona: On 1st September, I traveled from Stuttgart towards Verona, the first Italian city that I ever visited. It was 8 hours night journey and single journey ticket would cost me at least 40 Euros. So, my Interflix coupon saved me 20 Euro in my first journey. It was night journey so all I knew was we have to climb up the hills to cross countryside of Austria before entering Italy. Early in the morning when I was wake, the bus has already entered the Italian boundary. The road was meandering through the valley alongside a river, with two steep ridges from either side. At one point it reminded me of my travelling along the Punatshang chhu roads, where we see steep rocky terrains on either side. But it was different that the road was smooth, the ridges were green and the bus swift unlike our Punatshang chhu roads where the roads are bumpy and dusty, the hills degraded due to excavation and river diverted for damming. 

Reaching Verona, my sister who was then studying in Padua has come to Verona to guide and give me company. The weather was fine despite being summer, so in the next couple of hours we have walked through almost every nook and cranny, but mostly craving to see Romeo and Juleit's historical remains, though they were mere characters in the Shakespeare's famous play, and not a real Love Birds of the city. While many would still come searching for the veranda from where Juleit would wait for Romeos coming, Verona has much more to offer. A bustling city centre, remarkably well-preserved 1st century amphitheater, architecturally fascinating bridges over the river Adige and stunning view of the city from Casa di Giulietta. And of course not to miss Juleits home and her bronze statue in the court yard where hordes of people swarm in to rub her breast and take pictures. 

16. Padua: My visit to Padua was by chance. Its an hour journey by train from Verona. As my sister studies there, it became apparent for me to halt by Padua. I don't have any idea about the place but had a vague memory of Padua from the Shakespeares play "The Taming of the Shrew" which I studied over a decade ago during my high school days. 
 "I come to wive it wealthily in Padua;
If wealthily, then happily in Padua"
                                     -Shakespeare in "The Taming of the Shrew"

But after hearing from my sister, I came to learn that the University of Padua is perhaps one of the oldest universities in Europe  founded in 1222. The oldest existing, and continually operating educational institution in the world is the University of Karueein, founded in 859 AD in Fez, Morocco. The University of Bologna, Italy, was founded in 1088 and is the oldest one in Europe. I also knew from my sister that it was from the University of Padua that the first lady got her Ph.D in 1678. Padua is also known as city of science and culture and is an ideal place to trace the history and the achievements of mankind in the fields of science, technology, knowledge, and creativity. Great scientist Galileo has also served as lecturer at the University of Padua chairing mathematics department. 

17. Venice: The Floating City or the City of Canals is a beautiful city most traveled by tourists. Together with my sister, we traveled from Padua in the morning and returned in the evening from Venice. Unlike the two cities of Verona and Padua, Venice becomes more expensive owing to the high demand of tourists. There are numerous Islands and to reach to one Island from another we have to travel by water taxi. I visited two Islands and aside from the unique travelling experience by water taxi, I didn't find it too exciting to be in Venice.