Senior Ecologist Rebecca Pradhan, Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN), honored as Biodiversity Hotspot Hero
Rebecca Pradhan was honored with the recognition as one of the ‘Hotspot Heroes’ by Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) at the 6th IUCN World Conservation Congress on September 4, 2016. The honors as “Hotspot Heroes” were conferred to 15 conservationists from around the world during the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the CEPF at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. The ‘hotspot heroes’ were chosen from a pool of more than 2,000 civil society organizations who were the recipients of CEPF grants for conservation of biodiversity hotspots across the globe since 2001.
The honor was in recognition of the valuable contribution of Rebecca towards conservation of biodiversity hotspots in Bhutan and exemplifies her selfless dedication and hard work.
Rebecca, at the ripe age of 63, is one of the senior most staffs at RSPN and a pioneer in the field of environment conservation in Bhutan. Fueled by an early interest in nature, she started her conservation career with the Royal Government of Bhutan. She served as the Head of the Herbarium and Forestry Research Library of Department of Forests and Park Services from 1985 till 1999. It was in 2000 that she joined RSPN, contributing immensely to the growth of RSPN – the oldest environmental CSO in Bhutan.
One of her most outstanding works has been in the field of conservation of the critically endangered White-bellied Heron (Ardea insignis) in Bhutan. Of the less than 60 confirmed global population of White-bellied Heron, 28 (population survey, 2016) are found in Bhutan. The conservation efforts for this critically endangered species were made possible from grants and donations, and one such grant was received from CEPF for the protection of one of the last remaining habitats along the Phochu River in the Punakha. It was a project spearheaded by RSPN with Rebecca at the helm.
CEPF is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. CEPF provides grants to civil society organizations in developing and transitional countries and territories that are in biodiversity hotspots.
RSPN’s initiatives in conservation of Whitebellied Heron in collaboration with Department of Forests and Parks Services, were supported by Felburn Foundation, WWF Country Office, Bhutan, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN), Punatsangchu Hydropower Project Authority (PHPA), Karuna Foundation (Bhutan Foundation), MacArthur Foundation, Small Grant Project, GEF, Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation (BTFEC).
Some of the recent and major breakthroughs in the conservation of White-bellied Heron in Bhutan will be the construction of captive breeding center at Changchey (Tsirang), study through satellite telemetry, new habitat inventories, understanding ecology and its dynamics through scientific studies, and conducting consistent public awareness and advocacy programs in the country, which will be instituted through the support from several organizations like Punatsang Chhu Hydropower Project Authority, MAVA foundation, Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation, International Crane Foundation, Synchronicity Earth, UK et. al.
In her illustrious career, Rebecca also authored several publications. Some of her notable publications are the “Wild Rhododendrons of Bhutan” and “Threatened Birds in Bhutan.”