White-bellied Heron Eco Lodge improving livelihoods of Berti community

Being located in an area identified as a habitat for the endangered White-bellied Heron, Berti in Zhemgang doesn’t see much developmental activities due to the mandate to conserve the environment. As an alternative source of livelihood, the Zhemgang District Administration has constructed the Berti Eco Lodge which is proving to be promising. Run by the community, the Eco Lodge intends to create a sustainable model for conservation and serve as a platform to promote environmental awareness and generate income for the local community while safeguarding the future of the White-bellied Heron.

Known for its breathtakingly beautiful natural environment and diverse wildlife, Berti is slowly becoming a preferred destination for nature enthusiasts. As a result, the White-bellied Heron Eco Lodge is gaining popularity, among both local and international visitors.

Nestled along the picturesque riverbank of Mangdechhu in Zhemgang, the eco-friendly lodge offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The tranquil backdrop and the soothing sounds of the natural environment have made the place a perfect destination for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a peaceful retreat.

The newly built cabins have well-furnished bedrooms with attached toilets and bathrooms. Apart from accommodation, the eco-lodge offers local cuisines and beverages at an affordable price.

The lodge hosted 12 official meetings and around 35 leisure visitors including eight foreigners from 17th December till date.

“I feel it will greatly benefit the whole community of Berti. We offer a wide range of services including meals for day visitors and for those staying the night, we provide them with welcome tea and other complementary services. We offer everything as and when they order,” said Dorji Wangmo, a member.

“We have twin bedrooms attached with bathrooms and visitors can take a shower inside and have an open deck to view. The rate for foreigners is Nu 4,000 and for local visitors, we charge them Nu 1,500 per room,” said Kelzang Wangmo, another member.

Apart from cabins, the eco-lodge houses other facilities like open camping, picnic, bonfire, and dining among others at varying rates.

As Zhemgang gears towards turning into an eco-tourism hub in the 13th Five-Year Plan, the District Authority says such eco-lodge facilities will become a reliable source of income for the locals.

“The District Administration has constructed the Berti While-bellied Heron eco-lodge because this is the place of habitat for the White-Bellied Heron. So, the community of Berti will run the eco-lodge and it will help them earn income and also contribute to the social and economic development of the community. We also hope that the community will help us in the conservation of critically endangered species,” said Norbu Jamtsho, Zhemgang’s planning officer.

Including the Berti White-bellied Heron Eco Lodge, Zhemgang has four such lodge facilities.

Considering the growing popularity, the government and the UNDP, GEF, and the Department of Tourism have constructed five additional cabins spending more than Nu 5 M which were handed over to the eight-member group recently.

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