CONSULTANT Royal Gov't, Bhutan

Title slide of digital presentation I used to deliver to audiences in the UK about my time in Bhutan

Those interested in Bhutan should consider joining 'The Bhutan Society of the UK' (or the equivalent in their country), see:

In the 1990s I was appointed as a 'High Altitude Agronomist' (there was also a 'Low Altitude Agronomist') for 'The Cultivation of Medicinal Plants for Traditional Medicine Project (ALA/92/22) funded by the European Community, through High Value Horticulture, then at Uxbridge, UK, who thanks to my critical involvement in their bid, had won the project to run for 3 years.  In addition to the agronomist role (split into 'High' and 'Low' experts), there was a 'Pharmacologist', 'Agro-processing specialist', 'Economist [marketing]' and smaller-scale specialist input (I met a plant drying specialist during the first year of the project and recommended the involvement of a UK-trained anthropologist, by chance based in Bhutan at that time).  The Royal Botanical Garden Herbarium was due to be paid for access to their reference material of pressed specimens and accompanying field notes(the most extensive in the world - by then a summarised form was available in copies of 'Flora of Bhutan' (published in Parts from 1983 onwards; copies of Volume 2 Part 1 reached Bhutan that year) from the second year of the project onward but as I left after the end of the first year, I cannot say if that materialised.  I do know that when alerted by Edinburgh I did ensure an apology to them, which effectively meant my services were no longer required.  Naturally, the details are confidential but it is further evidence of my honourable conduct and is especially pertinent in light of the BBC (and Edinburgh allegations) against me....


Rhododendron sino-grande - specimen held by Rebecca Pradhan; image scanned in from slide taken in Bhutan in 1990s. © Chris Chadwell

During my time in Bhutan I was privileged to meet (and spend time on a field-trip in part to view black-necked cranes) with Rebecca Pradhan (born in Darjeeling, if my memory serves me correctly) who was by far the most knowledgeable person in the country on Bhutanese flora, of Forest Research Division, Taba, Thimphu.  I recommended she be involved with the project in the following years.  She has clearly gone on to greater things. See: http://www.rspnbhutan.org/press-release-senior-ecologist-of-rspn-honored-as-biodiversity-hotspot-hero/; https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2003/07/bhutanese-fellow-knows-plants/.  Pradhan had helped escort Simon Bowes-Lyon, who had an interest in plants, during forays in Bhutan (he had on occasion explored for plants with Adam Stainton, co-author of 'Flowers of the Himalaya' and was active within 'The Bhutan Society of the UK); his 'obituary' within the gutter-press shows what sensationalist garbage our mainstream-media produce: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4611080/Queen-s-cousin-leaves-40m-fortune-will.html - I have included this not to belittle the memory of a senior figure but to illustrate the level to which journalists routinely sink - no doubt, had Ms Unsworth from the BBC worked for this newspaper, she would have claimed that the story was 'in the public interest', even the head-line is the obituary (incidentally, I was educated mostly in Stevenage, Hertfordshire and remembered 'Bowes-Lyon House' (see: http://www.mogolistings.org/Activity/Details/YC-Hertfordshire-Bowes-Lyon-Centre-for-Young-People-Stevenage; there are other links but some are out-of-date and not working; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Paul%27s_Walden_Bury.)


Rebecca Pradhan in a forest examining plant specimens; image scanned from slide taken in Bhutan in 1990s. © Chris Chadwell

A Rhododendron specimen collected during a trek with Rebecca Pradhan, where I showed her the method for securing quality pressed specimens - it seems her interest in the genus continued, authoring 'Rhododendrons of Bhutan' (unfortunately I cannot find any meaningful link to this or proper review; presumably it was published in Bhutan/India).  The image above was scanned in from a slide taken in the 1990s . © Chris Chadwell

Origin of the Project

Traditional 'Tibetan' Medicine is part of the Buddhist culture, officially included in the Bhutanese health system.  Demand is consistent all over the country.  To cope with the issue, the Royal Government of Bhutan set up, with the assistance of an Italian NGO (DIVSI), a specialised body: The National Institute of Traditional Medicine (NITM).The need for future development and expansion of provision of 'Tibetan' medicinal plants, a majority of which are collected in the wild, often at high altitude was recognised by the Royal Government; in addition, a proportion of plant material used in medicinal formulations is imported from India (these are low-altitude plants). With financial aid from the European Union (Community), it was agreed that the collection of plant material from the wild would be improved, the promotion of cultivation of the Himalayan species utilised in Bhutanese Medicine begun as there was virtually no tradition of such cultivation (the only known species being grown prior to the project was Inula racemosa, originally from Kashmir/NW Himalaya), to, in theory, reduce pressure on wild populations of species used medicinally along with the upgrade of processing facilities, finally, to improve the distribution and availability of resulting medicines.  Continuation of use of 'Tibetan' medicine by the Bhutanese population (integral to their Buddhist way of life) also helps reduce dependence upon expensive Western medicines and associated requirements for Western-trained doctors and nurses. Material from 'high altitude' plants (my specialism) is generally gathered during the summer months from one Tibetan-borderland district; material from 'low altitude' plants is mainly collected from Central Bhutan in the winter months.

As is so often the case, the objectives of the project were exceedingly ambitious.  It was a pity I could not have been consulted in setting the target activities - although I had not visited Bhutan prior to joining this project, my existing knowledge could have been put to good use.


Two maids who worked at the Druk Hotel, Thimphu - image scanned in from slide taken in 1990s © Chris Chadwell

A small village in Central Bhutan - image scanned in from slide taken in 1990s © Chris Chadwell

A settlement near to Thimphu - image scanned in from slide taken in 1990s © Chris Chadwell

View from Dochu La, Bhutan - image scanned in from slide taken in 1990s © Chris Chadwell

Corner of envelope (made from Daphne bark) sent to Chris in UK by Rebbeca Pradhan - image scanned in from slide taken in 1990s © Chris Chadwell


For location of Bhutan, see: https://www.mapsofindia.com/neighbouring-countries-maps/india-bhutan-map.html








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