Sonam Tobgay
Snow leopard monitoring at Gongchela Author: Phuntsho
2022

Sonam Tobgay

FI’19 – Conservationist

in the abode of gods and goddesses

meet sonam

Sonam Tobgay is the Chief Forestry Officer at the Forest Resources Management division under the Ministry of Agriculture & Forests for the Royal Government of Bhutan. He is leading the second nationwide national forest inventory of Bhutan to understand the condition of Bhutan’s forests, including growing stock, biodiversity, forest carbon stock, and changes in forest ecosystems, among others. A practitioner and an ecologist in the field of environmental conservation for the last 18 years, he has been instrumental in designing strategic plans in Bhutan. With a vast experience in protected area management, nature conservation and leadership, he has contributed immensely to the conservation and sustainable forest management programs at both policy and implementation levels.

in the abode of gods and goddesses
Nominated by: Matthew DeSantis MI'16
Class of 2022 Location Bhutan
Snow leopard monitoring team at Tshona pass (4170m), Haa, Bhutan
Snow leopard monitoring team at Tshona pass (4170m), Haa, Bhutan Author: Tashi

For deeply reflective and inward looking Bhutanese people, every object of nature has life and is sacred. We believe that our mountains and hills, rivers and lakes, woods and forests, trees and rocks, and caves and passes, are the abode of gods and goddesses, spirits and sentinels, guardian deities and zealous custodians. When the pervasive impulse is to conquer and control, measure and master, nothing of the sacred remains. The more we have, the poorer we seem to be! It is precisely on account of these emerging threats that we need to reclaim our environment, and reclaim them urgently.

Beyond all things, I have started to understand and realize that we cannot afford to stand complacent and hopeless. I have accepted that I must give the best of myself so that nature can be safeguarded beyond all the challenges. In the end we will be judged by what we have done and left behind, so we can not just stand by as nature gets ravished and vanishes. My wish, and my commitment, is that nature stays forever safeguarded in Bhutan and everywhere around the world, not just for the sake of environmental conservation, but for the posterity and prosperity of humankind and for peace on Earth.

“My wish, and my commitment, is that nature stays forever safeguarded in Bhutan and everywhere around the world, not just for the sake of environmental conservation, but for the posterity and prosperity of humankind and for peace on Earth.”

- Sonam Tobgay
Carrying timber to renovate our old Campsite during our biodiversity expedition at Tshonapata at Haa, Bhutan
Carrying timber to renovate our old Campsite during our biodiversity expedition at Tshonapata at Haa, Bhutan Author: Wangchuk

There is a call that speaks to the primeval impulse of all humans. This call links the dead and the living with the unborn, a lingering echo of the elemental that brings the real to the mythical. It is this call that I cannot resist. The call urges me to make a meaningful contribution to Bhutan’s pristine and intact environment, which is the reason why we are here today. For a landlocked, mountainous country like Bhutan, our intact environment is our lifeline.

In the true spirit of The Explorers Club vision, Bhutan can be one of the first countries to lead us into some very interesting new frontiers in tackling the global climate change crisis. What I do gives me a higher purpose and gives meaning to my life.

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