Weaving Strands of Knowledge: Connecting Culture and Science to Climate Change
Kuenzang Tshering, M.Sc., Royal Thimphu College, Bhutan
Kuenzang joined Royal Thimphu College in April 2016. His research activities are focused on understanding the role of aquatic and wetland ecosystems in maintaining Carbon balance in the context of land use and climate change. He has taught undergraduate courses in sustainable development, natural resource management and aquatic ecosystems (focused on biogeochemistry and ecosystem processes). Before joining Royal Thimphu College, he was a research associate at International Center for Integrated Mountain Development in Nepal. He has also field experience of working with researchers in countries like Tanzania, Kenya and Nepal. He earned his M.Sc. (2011) from UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, in Environmental Science and Technology from Netherlands. His B.Sc. degree (2006) from Delhi University (India) was in Biology and Chemistry.
When asked to describe his personal interest in working on this project, Kuenzang responded:
"I am from Bumthang, a beautiful valley in central Bhutan. I grew up in the countryside, where our family owned a dairy farm. It was one of the pioneer dairy farm pilot sites in Bhutan supported by the Swiss aid in early 1960s. We worked on pasture development and various innovative strategies of rangeland management practices. Through this I became attached to the natural environment at the very early stage age. As a farmer, our family's livelihood was totally determined by natural factors like precipitation and other hydrological factors. In a way this experience has shaped my attitude towards nature and guided me to pursue my career in the field of environmental science.
The global climate has been changing and over the past decades an unprecedented change has triggered global debate. Change in climate has already affected millions of people and triggered changes in biodiversity, atmosphere and natural environment.
Working with diverse group of people on this project will provide us a platform for exchange of ideas and experiences—it will be an eye opening opportunity to understand how different communities and cultures view the issue of climate change. Further, face-to-face interaction with community members will provide us their real life experiences in understanding in dealing with issues related to climate change. Such traditional knowledge often provides key clues for the scientific community to sharpen our tools to better understand the impacts of climate on both the environment and human well being.”