You know India, and you’ve heard of Tibet — but you may not be familiar with a smaller country in South Asia that attracts far fewer visitors. To go back in time, you’ll need to get off the typical Asian backpacker route and head to the remote kingdom of Bhutan.
Over five days in late August, I trekked mountains, paid respects at Buddhist temples and saw a country many people back home had never heard of. It’s not the easiest place to get to, and it’s not known as a budget destination, but I found it to be worth the hike and the expense. Continue reading Guided visit reveals a lost-in-time Bhutan
But what is the cost-benefit of a sound environmental policy?
12 December, 2009 – As Bhutan showcased its environmental friendly projects at the sidelines of the Copenhagen climate change conference yesterday, it also made a pledge in Thimphu, by signing a declaration, to follow and be guided by a strong sense of conservation ethics and remain a carbon neutral country.
The declaration calls for global attention to Bhutan’s commitment to preserving its rich eco system and in return is asking for support for its mitigation and adaptation measures to adapt to climate change.
“In spite of our status as a small, mountainous developing country, with so many other pressing social and economic development needs and priorities, we feel that there’s no need greater or more important than keeping the planet safe for life to continue,” states the declaration. “Therefore, we commit ourselves to keep absorbing more carbon than we emit and to maintain our country’s status as a net sink for greenhouse gases (GHG).” Continue reading Bhutan pledged to carbon neutrality
Bhutan will see an increase in winter temperature of 1.5°C to 4.0°C by 2050s, according to a World Bank (WB) report released in conjunction with the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen underway this week.
The report titled, Shared Views on Development and Climate Change, states that there are no long-term climate data available on Bhutan but available data during the 1990-2002 period point to an increase in rainfall inconsistency across the country.
In the 1998-2003 period, the mean monthly temperature recorded was higher than the mean temperature recorded for the 1990-2003 period, pointing to an overall warming trend. The predicted increases in temperature and more erratic rainfall patterns pose a threat to Bhutan, its people, and its economy. With its fragile ecosystem, glacier lake outburst floods in the northern mountains constitute an ever-present threat. Of the 2,674 glacial lakes in Bhutan, 24 are considered to be potentially dangerous, states the report. Continue reading Bhutan climate report in Copenhagen
The first phase of an international project to reduce the risk of Bhutan valley from the threatening bursting of growing and increasingly unstable glacial lake is emphasising the huge costs of climate change adaptation in the Himalayas.
Thorthormi Tsho is a glacial lake perched precariously at 4,428 metres above the sea level in the remote Lunana area of northern Bhutan. Rated as one of Bhutan’s likeliest future catastrophes, a breach and outburst flood through Thorthormi Tsho’s unstable moraine walls would most likely spill into the also vulnerable Raphsthreng Tsho 80 metres below, with the combined flood suddenly releasing up to 53 million cubic metres of water and debris into the upper catchment of the Pho Chhu River.
In a valley still bearing the scars of a just one third as large 1994 Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF)which took more than 20 lives and devastated villages and wrecked transport and power facilities, the prospect is frightening. Continue reading Draining the dangerous Thorthormi Lake
The first three-day nomadic festival will be held at Wangchuck Centennial Park in Bumthang starting December 26.
Nomads from all over Bhutan will come together dressed in their attires representing their regions and exchange their cultures and traditions.
Hundreds of nomads from Haa, Paro (Soi Yaksa), Thimphu (Naro), Gasa (Laya), Wangduephodrang (Sephu), Bumthang (Chhokhor, Tang, Shingkhar), Trashiyangtse (Bomdeling) and Trashigang (Merak and Sakten)will be participating.
During the three-day festival, various activities like awareness campaign on post-harvest of cordyceps, food safety and hygiene, yak and horse riding competition, yak bull lassoing, yak calf weight guessing and yak milking will be carried out. Traditional sports like dego, khuru, soksum and archery along with traditional songs and dances will be played. Continue reading Bhutan to organize first nomadic festival
The earthquake damage toll in the country, especially in the eastern dzongkhags, has risen. The death toll in Mongar, Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, Lhuentse and Samdrup Jongkhar has increased to 13.
Reports from the east say many people are moving to safer places out in the open. The details of damages are sketchy owing to large affected areas and difficult terrain. Assessment is underway, according to the field personnel deployed to assess the extent of damage and support the people affected by the earthquake need.
“Dzongkhag administration officials are out in the villages assessing the magnitude of the damages. It could take a day or two to compile a comprehensive report,” said the Trashiyangtse Dzongda.
In Trashigang Dzongkhag, as commanded by His Majesty the King, the Royal Bhutan Army and the Office of Gyalpoi Zimpoen, in collaboration with Dzongkhag Administrations, are carrying out relief works and delivering essential commodities to people affected by the recent earthquake.
Soldiers from the Royal Bhutan Army continue to build temporary shelters, take foods and medicines and assist families in carrying out funerals rites of those killed by the earthquake.
According to Zimpon Wogma Karma Thinley, an additional reinforcement of some 45 soldiers had to be sent to Narang and Thangrong – the two Geogs where damages have been maximum.
Today, one of the team visited Durung village under Yangyer Geog in Tashigang Dzongkhag. There the arm force personnel are helping to set up temporary shelters.
When sentiment clashes with common sense, something’s got to give
Environment : Part III September, 2009 – Bhutan’s verdant forests, whose coverage the Constitution mandates should not be less than 60 percent for all time to come, is under tremendous pressure from the soaring demand for prayer flags that dot the country’s hills and valleys.
Although no studies have been carried out on the impact on the forest by felling trees for flag posts, statistics with the department of forest show that thousands of trees are felled every year to meet this demand.Between June 2007 to 2008, Bhutan felled 60,178 trees, or about 165 trees every day, to meet the demand for poles, of which demand for flag posts is the highest. This excludes the 550 trees felled daily for other uses. Continue reading The prayer flag and the forest
A five-day training course for field forestry officials in Lobesa to address lack of data
Although Bhutan has nearly 200 species of mammals, there is no ecological information on their status – population, distribution and threats, especially for small mammals. Small mammals consist of bats and rodents, which form the most diverse order of mammals.
To address the absence of data, the forestry department, together with various international environment conservation agencies, is conducting a five-day training course for field forestry officials in Lobesa.“Small mammals are very important, because they form the basis of the food chain,” said chief forestry officer (CFO), Dr Sonam Wangyel Wang. “They are also more responsive to environmental changes,” added the CFO, “which made them especially vulnerable to extinction.” Continue reading Mapping the small mammals
In an email interview with The Nation, US-based historian, Eric Zencey says it’s time to ditch The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for a more meaningful and inclusive index which can more accurately measure country performances.
Why should we be thinking of an alternative to the GDP now?
GDP is a deeply foolish measure of economic progress and well-being. It was never designed to measure either of those, and we ought to find a better measure as soon as possible. Anytime is a good time to do this, but the downturn we’re facing now makes this an additionally opportune time. What we’re seeing economically is in many ways unprecedented, and its resolution will require thinking in ways we haven’t thought before. In practical terms, with GDP down worldwide, a change now is easier. The new measure could be implemented and could guide policy toward an economic recovery that gives us more of what we really want, which is social well-being, not just economic activity. Continue reading Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Vs Gross National Happiness (GNH)