Major Environmental Issues In Bhutan

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There are a lot of environment issues in Bhutan and the most detrimental issues among them are firewood collection, crop and flock protection, waste management and modern concerns such as industrial pollution, climate change that threatens Bhutan's population and biodiversity. Land and Water use have also become a part of environmental concern in rural and urban areas.Air and noise pollution are also prevalent in urban centers. Land degradation, biodiversity and habitat loss, high fuel-wood consumption, and human-wildlife conflicts are some of Bhutan's environmental challenges.

The most affected ones are the poor people rather than politically empowered and richer ones. Environmental issues in Bhutan.(2012). In Wikipedia.Retrieved October 09,2012, from Bhutan, for bukharis(a steel oven), more than 10,184.22 cubic feet, i.e.

42 truckloads of firewood are burnt each day during the winter months in the Thimphu valley. On an average each household burns about 2.614 cubic feet of firewood every day. Thimphu�s annual consumption of firewood is approximately 916560 cubic feet. The burning of firewood causes high levels of pollution during winter mornings (National environment commission, NEC, 1999). The construction of traditional house mostly in rural areas done fully in wooden materials which requires a lot of wood requires more logging resulting in depletion of forests and degradation of forestland.Air pollution is an emerging issue in Bhutan resulting from increased urbanization and industrialization.

Air pollution in cities is mainly caused by enormous number of vehicles. The vehicle population in the kingdom has grown by 14% in the last year, pushing the number from 14,206 to 16,335 with Thimphu and Phuntsholing having the largest number of vehicles (NEC,1999). In Thimphu, two-wheelers form about 45% of the total vehicles, while cars and jeeps account for about 35%, and buses, about 2% (MoP,1996).The increase in number of vehicles have led to more pollution which is harmful for the environment as well human health.According to (MOP,1996)Industrial activities in Bhutan have grown tremendously. The number of industries has gone up from 742 in 1990, to 4,394 in 1997.The small scale sector has grown 17 times during the same period.

Mineral-based industries have grown faster in the last 20 years. The contribution of industrial sector to the GDP has gone up from 0.01% in 1982 to 3.2 % in 1992.Data relating to Cement industry states that, at present 4 cement plants are operating in Bhutan. Major pollutants namely particulate matter, fugitive emissions and gaseous pollutants are emitted from the operations of cement plants.

In newspapers there are a lot of complaints by people relating to dust produced by the plants and the vehicles plying on it affecting the growth of their crops and their health.In Bhutan there are four chemical industries. These chemical industries produce calcium carbide, ferro silica, plaster of paris, rosin and turpentine and activated carbon. (TERI &Shriram,1999)As a result, the disturbance to ambience and work zone emissions are the major problems. The principal pollutants are dust and particulate emissions.

Various other gaseous emissions such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide also emanate from the chemical industry.Mining industry is also popular in Bhutan as it is rich in minerals. The major minerals mined are limestone, gypsum, coal, quartzite and dolomite. Most of these minerals are mined for domestic consumption and some for commercial especially to nearby Indian states.

The major problems due to these mining industries are management of overburden and drilling waste, reclamation and runoff from mined areas, which cause soil erosion and air pollution.The urban population in Bhutan is increasing at a rate of 6.7% annually, more than double the national population growth rate of 3.1% per year (National Statistic Bureau, NSB, 2006).This rapid increase has resulted in unplanned urban development, slums, increase in consumption patterns and higher demands related to transport, energy and other infrastructure leading to various pollution problems.Climate change in Bhutan is a ramification of air pollution. Climate plays a role in the transmission of many infectious disease and some of them are among the most important cause of mortality and morbidity in developing countries.Deaths due to thermal stress; hypothermia and heat stroke, death/injury in floods, storms and drought and various diseases such as Diarrhoeal Diseases (Food and Water borne transmission), Influenza (Air-borne transmission), Dengue (Female Aedes mosquitoes), Meningococcal meningitis(Air borne transmission), Cholera(Food and Water borne transmission) affecting the human life are possible results of climate/weather change .Over the years, Bhutan has witnessed several Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF), flash floods and landslides that have washed away homes, paddy fields, damaged vital infrastructures and have resulted in deaths and these events could be related to climate or weather changeTshering and Sithey (1996) claims that Bursting of some lake in eastern Lunana, partial burst of lugge had destroyed part of punakha dzong, some lives dead, households affected, dry and pasture land washed, domestic animals washed away, reserved food grains lost, bridges washed away, temples and chortens destroyed and even caused health effects such as diseases related to safe drinking water, malnutrition, sanitation and hygiene.Flash floods and landslides are common during the monsoon period extending from May to August.

It has caused about 100 hundred lives and damages worth in millions. Houses were either fully or partially damaged and wetland as well dry land washed away. Crops such as maize, paddy, oranges trees and potatoes were lost affecting the households.According to (National Environment Commission, NEC,2006) :Livestock rearing, especially of cattle, is a vital rural activity.

The estimated cattle population of the country is more than 100,000 and the number is likely to increase along with human population. Grazing of this huge number, far beyond the carrying capacity, in forest areas, exerts a tremendous pressure on forestland with resultant degradation.�Poaching in Bhutan is an environmental issue both within the kingdom and at its borders. Many species are poached for their alleged medicinal properties. Though protected within Bhutan, wildlife products including rhinoceros horn, tiger bones, musk and cordyceps command high prices outside the kingdom.�Although porous borders are blamed for trafficking in poached wildlife, some protected species such as cordyceps�have their own markets within Bhutan.Shifting cultivation is an age-old practice common to several parts of the country. With increases in population, more and more areas are being tapped for this practice.

With the narrowing down of the fallow cycle due to paucity of arable lands, such practices do not allow a sufficient period for the natural processes of recuperation to repair the disturbed ecosystem resulting in erosion and fertility decline. (Ministry of Agriculture, MOA,1996), estimated a total area of 883 km2 under shifting cultivation in Bhutan. Thus, shifting cultivation is one of the significant contributing factors to forest degradation. However, the expansion of agriculture due to increases in population and the recent boom in horticulture is bringing more and more land for such use for which is not suitable. The situation is leading to encroachment into forest on one hand and degradation of land on the other.Ways to address the economic problems.The Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN):According to Phuentsho, N.(2009).It is Bhutan's first and only private non profit organization with nation-wide operations.

Since its foundation in 1987, the RSPN has promoted conservation, education, outreach, and sustainable development. In 2009, the RSPN reincorporated under the Civil Society Authority, and operates as a public benefit organization (PBO) under Bhutanese law.The RSPN is particularly active in protecting the Phobjika Valley (Wangdue Phodrang District), home to many endangered species such as the Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis). This valley contains wildlife corridors connecting Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park with other protected areas of Bhutan, However most of the area is not under official government protection.

To meet environmental needs, RSPN staff runs projects to promote sustainable ecotourism, alternative energy, and gender equity. The organization had even outfitted more than two hundred homes, monasteries, and other buildings with solar photovoltaic panels, and provided Bhutanese women with solar water heaters, one-pot hole mud stoves, rain barrels, and other assets that improve both human and environmental conditions.Agriculture practiseTo address environmental issues, the government of Bhutan has banned certain practices with varying success.�Tsheri�agriculture, especially prevalent among Sharchops and Lhotshampas is a practice by which land is cleared and farmed intensively until it becomes unproductive and is thereafter left fallow. Since it is particularly environmentally harmful, the practice has been banned by the government since 1969.

Bhutan imposed a ban on timber exports, though domestic timber harvesting remains heavily regulated under a network of foresters and road checkpoints.Ban on plastic bagsBhutan also prohibited plastic bags nationwide. The ban on plastic bags, however, has proven a daunting challenge in implementation and enforcement because of the practicality of lightweight airtight storage and a lack of feasible alternatives. The people are made to buy cotton bags and fines levied on those who undermine the norms.Five year planThroughout Bhutan, dependence on firewood as a fuel source has been historically prevalent. Before hydroelectric power�and other modern energy sources became available, the source of fuel for heating, cooking, and lighting was nearly exclusively firewood. The provision of electricity, as well as better regulation of fuelwood collectors and more aggressive reforestation�projects was seen as a key factor in forest conservation.

Because affordable electricity was not available throughout the country, the government established fuelwood plantations near villages to accommodate daily needs and to promote forest conservation.�Firewood harvesting and management remains one of Bhutan's leading environmental challenges; the kingdom is one of the world's leaders in firewood consumption.In order to make Bhutan self-sustaining and to improve its current ability to feed itself, a few prominent policy objectives that are being adopted during the Eighth Five Year.The Plans are as follows :Sustainable and balanced development of RNR for the enhancement of self-sufficiency and food security through an integrated systems approach within the national economy. Conservation of the unique natural and cultural heritage of the country and protection of the fragile mountain environment.To achieve the aforesaid policy objectives, the main strategies adopted are :Conceiving and implementing needs based research to increase production, conservation and efficient use of local resources.

The role of the RNR research programme has been broadened to include input into policy development and monitoring technology to avoid inappropriate or harmful introduction and Enhancing the planning base for the sector and formulating an enabling regulatory framework.Wild life�Protected wildlife had entered agricultural areas, trampling crops and killing livestock bringing huge losses to traditional farmers. The government has implemented an�insurance�scheme, began constructing solar powered�alarm fences, watch towers, search lights, and has provided fodder and salt licks�outside human settlement areas to encourage animals to stay away.�Bhutan has also sought assistance from the United Nations Development Programme in combating crop and livestock losses.Waste DisposalMemelakha waste disposal site in thimphu BhutanIn May 1993, Thimphu established a waste disposal site at Memelakha, developed by the Thimphu City Corporation (TCC) with assistance from the Danish government (DANIDA).

It is currently the only landfill site in Bhutan. The site is situated about 12 km away from the city thereby eliminating any health hazards within the city area. TCC(Tashi commercial cooperation) is the sole agency responsible for the waste management within Thimphu municipality. Domestic waste is collected and managed by the respective city/municipal corporations,The waste management includes waste collection and disposal system without waste segregation at source. Other than informal waste pickers/scavengers and minor scrap dealers, no significant waste recycling plans were initiated.

Whatever wastes that could be collected and transported by the waste pickers/dealers were traded across the border to India and Bangladesh. According to(Population and housing census of Bhutan, PHCB, 2005), Thimphu�s population was 79,185 and the daily waste collection was 36.7 tonnes for Thimphu . Daily, more than seven (7) trucks of waste is transported to the site according to the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN)�s survey in 2005.Thimphu�began a subsidized pilot project for sorting between biodegradable and non-biodegradable refuse. Thimphu municipal authorities also addressed the ubiquitous plastic in its refuse with a shredder for pet bottles to facilitate transport to recycling in India.

The residents are informed to keep separate bins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste. Shop and house owners are compelled to place bins/containers alongside the shops n outside of houses in most dzongkhags and failing to do so are levied fines.Clean Bhutan projectThe�Clean Bhutan�project is a concerted effort of RSPN and various other relevant stakeholders using recommendations from the Solid Waste Management Policy Framework to bring about collaboration in addressing the urgent needs and identify measures to combat the increasing solid waste issues at individual, household, institution and community levels (Royal Society For Protection Of Nature [RSPN[, 2006).The campaign is subdivided into four components:�Launching with Awareness programs, Solidarity show, Development of Education and awareness material such as Posters, Stickers??Newspapers, Radio programs, TV programs an Integration into video/movie shows.

Mobile advocacy visiting the dzongkhags ,Urban and rural areas.Physical Cleaning of the Nation through coordinated and public support clean up, research on alternative to garbage disposal facilities, suggesting alternatives to plastic bags, research dustbins and costing, management systems for urban and rural and the Organization would like to solicit support from members, individuals, communities and agencies in showing solidarity to the cause.The recent implementation of green tax of 20 percent for vehicles above 1,800cc and five percent below for the environment is a good cause which can be used for environment development.It will also help curb the problem of more imports of vehicle which can create a safe environment. Electric cars were axed out of taxes as it has no ill effects on the environment.The move of pedestrian day on june5th � world environment day on all Tuesdays from 8am to 6pm pushed by Five agencies namely: The National Environment commission Secretariat, Thimphu City Corporation, Road Safety and Transport Authority, Traffic Division and Bhutan Post to protect the environment, promoting human health and community interaction .All the people of Thimphu dzongkhag are compelled to walk or use bi-cycle and even electric cars allowed to ply in and around the city for schools, offices, for personal works.

Police personals are stringent about the move and found at the junction of the city to implement the laws.General principles behind the national environment strategy of BhutanNational Environment CommissionThe national environment commission (NEC) is a high- level independent government organization of Bhutan and responsible to look after all the issues impacting the environment. Its high-level commission ensures it receive support from all other government bodies. The commission also studies the developmental impacts on the environment and aims to place control, norms and perks to the private/public sectors to achieve sustainable development through the judicious use of natural resources.

The coordination of inter - sectoral programmes, the implementation of policies and laws with regard to the environment is also another important mandate of the Commission. The NEC Secretariat plays a key role in promoting sound environmental policies and investments. This Secretariat is responsible for ensuring that the country follows a sustainable development path and that all projects be it public or private, take into consideration of the environmental aspects.The objective of the commission or its successive agencies is to implement the principles enshrined in this act. i.e. to Protect and promote a safe and healthy environment, Prevent ,control and decrease environmental harm and decrease pollution, Conserve and make sustainable use of resources, Through implementation of Environmental Assessment Act,2000, institutionalize the environmental assessment process as the main part of the development plans and to discuss and implement bilateral and multilateral environmental agreements.IntroductionBhutan�s age old tradition of living in harmony with nature supported by the decision of the parliament to maintain a minimum of sixty percent of country�s land under forest cover in perpetuity.Fourth king King Jigme Singye Wangchuk�s policy of �Gross National Happiness� which denotes sustainable development as an essential element.Bhutan�s homage for the international environment laws and agreeing to major international environment and sustainable development.Honour for the visionary aspirations of our beloved kings and to fore fathers for the passing of moral, cultural and ecological values to ensure sustainable socio-economic development.The National Environment Protection Act, 2007It came into force on the 16th day of the 6th month of the Female Fire Pig Year of the Bhutanese calendar, corresponding to 31 July 2007 which extends to whole Bhutan.All other acts and policies governing the use of land, water, forest, minerals and other natural resources will be in agreement with this act.

And provision of all existing laws relating to environment which disagrees with this act can no longer have any legal force.The purpose of this act. is to protect and conserve the environment by the National Environment Commission by implanting an effective system ,designation of competent authorities and constitution of other advisory committees, so as to independently regulate and promote sustainable development in an equitable manner.Environmental principles.The people and the government one after the other shall continue to strive to consider and adopt its developmental policies, plans and programs in harmony with the following environmental policies:The policy of fundamental right and duty states that every being has equal right to live in a safe and healthy environment but he even have to protect and promote the environment for the wellbeing of the country.The inter-generational equity says that it is the responsibility of the present generation to maintain and enhance the health, diversity and productivity of the environment for the well-being of future generations.The middle path strategy states that the natural resource such as air, water, biodiversity, soil, minerals, forest shall not be compromised for the economic development achieving the policy of sustainable development. According to Government�s Middle Path Strategy �economic development and environmental conservation shall receive equal priority�.The precautionary principle compels any developmental activity taking place should be well planned and executed in harmony with the nature and must foresee its potential to overcome the damages.

Any person using the natural resource from the environment or deriving economic benefits must ensure sustainable use and manage them well and their ecology.Making excuses at the time of environment damage to be managed later shall not be accepted.The principle or 3RsEach states that each and every activity shall be planned and made operational in ways causing the least possible change on the environment, with least jeopardy and minimize the consumption of raw materials and energy during construction, production, distribution and utilization at the best considering the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle and prevent or limit environmental impacts at first.The polluter pays principle obliges any person polluting the environment or causing harm to the ecology is liable to pay the cost for containment, avoidance, abatement, medical compensation, mitigation, remediation and restoration. The local government departments , institutions, persons, businesses and the organisation protecting the rules regarding environment must cooperate with each other.

The uniformity of the system (environmental protection) shall be guaranteed by the government, state authorities, and the private sectors via appropriate policies, plans and Program such as environmental assessment processes, norms, incentives, fiscal policies and other instruments.The right to information policy allows every person the right to know about the state of the environment and all activities which are intended to do that could have adverse effects on the environment.The access to justice allows person to seek legal redress for any harm or that could cause negative effect to a person�s right of a safe and healthy environment.The sovereign rights principle states that the state has power over renewable and non-renewable natural resources within the limits of its national jurisdiction.The principle of payments for environment services states any person using or extracting natural resources shall be liable to pay for ecosystem m/environmental services.Examples of successes in protecting environment in BhutanThe implementation of pedestrian day on june5th (world environment day) on all Tuesdays from 8am to 6pm in the recent years to protect the environment by reducing pollution, promoting human health and community interaction have come up as a big success. The move was appreciated by many other dzongkhags and some evenhad implemented it albeit showdowns by many peoples.Implementation of green tax encourages people to buy environment friendly or electric cars as no taxes are levied on those because of no pollution being produced.

It reduces the demand for motor vehicles due to high cost which eventually reduces environmental pollution.According to chophel, k. (2012) the NEC is being stringent by full time monitoring whether mining quarries are complying with the rules and by implementing corrective measures. They are also going to train private miners for better knowledge regarding mining that would cause less environmental damages.The RSPN protecting the Phobjika Valley (Wangdue Phodrang District), home to many endangered species such as the Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis) have led to increase in the number of such species that makes the country looks unique and aesthetic.The Memelakha waste disposal site in Thimphu has proved to be best method of waste management within Thimphu municipality and because of the success , the authorities have identified a landfill site in Phuntsholing similar to that in Thimphu and it is expected that this site will get developed shortly.

Government has also identified landfill sites for 10 other urban centres.The process of logging which was detrimental to the environment is no longer prevalent.The government laws that penalize the offender helps maintain the forest cover. Bhutan imposed a ban on timber exports, though domestic timber harvesting remains heavily regulated under a network of foresters and road checkpoints.The government of Bhutan that had banned certain agriculture practices regarding to Tsheri�agriculture which is especially prevalent among Sharchops and Lhotshampas since 1969 has reduced the impact on environment and is such practices are rare to find in this modern times.The Clean Bhutan project of RSPN and various other relevant stakeholders to bring about collaboration in addressing the urgent needs and identify measures to combat the increasing solid waste issues at individual, household, institution and community levels has been a success.Most of the times it�s given in Bhutanese news papers and Bhutan Board Casting Service (BBS) that many people are lending their leisure time in helping collecting bio-degradable and non-biodegradable waste in and around city, at scared sites and prime places.The new policy of making the country clean and green in which every house owner and shopkeepers compelled to keep a waste/trash bin outside the house/shop and even cleaning the surroundings have come up as big success.

Peoples failing to provide bins and found with dirty surroundings were levied fined by the respective authorities.Shortcomings in environment protectionFour years ago, the country had initiated a measure with the intriguing acronym HEHE - Helping our environment, health and economy�to be implemented in Sarpang. The move failed to sustain, and died after a few months.The increase in the number of vehicles has enormous effect on the ecology. The level of pollution emitted by those vehicles is tremendous and detrimental to not only to ecology but to the living beings.Albeit knowing the harmful effects of over-utilization of the natural environment , Human beings prefer development prime.

They promote deforestation and construction of roads through the jungles to live a comfortable and easy life(easy transport of crops and vegetables).Bhutan being a developing country with most of its people illiterate unaware of consequences throw non-degradable waste such as papers, plastics and bottles in rivers, surroundings at ease that harms environment.In some parts of the country, people have to walk for 10 kilometres or more to fetch water because their water sources have dried up and some have access to water based on timings which keeps people disgruntled. The reasons they cite for water shortages are: More people than they used to have before i.e. overpopulation leading to environment problems and Landslides causing blockages and breakages.According to Chophel, k. (2012) lack of qualified manpower(professional miners),inspectors and operators in mining field is causing more devastation to environment and peoples complain of dust emissions from the factories and the gargantuan trucks plying on the road emitting lots of dust not only affects the environment but also the human health and growth of crops.References used for the assignmentJarbie (2012) ,In Wikipedia.

Retrieved from,D. (2010,march25).Japan�s qsp implementation report . Retrieved from Environment Commision(n.d.).Principles of applicable to environmental protection. Retrieved from,P. (n.d.). MEMELAKHA WASTE DISPOSAL SITE IN THIMPHU, BHUTAN.Retrived from,%20THIMPHU,%20BHUTAN.pdfFood And Ariculture Organization Of The United States (n.d.).

Principles of applicable to environmental pritection. Retrieved from,N. ( 2012, September 12). Green tax slashed to 20%.Retrieved from,Batra,A. (June6,2012).

Central Thimpu becomes pedestrian zone on World Environment Day. Retrieved from

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