Balancing the forest and the farm

Farmers under Chukha Dzongkhag feel that they are facing complex issues like agricultural productivity, human-wildlife issue and difficulty in preservation of the natural resources.

Pemba Wangchuk, Chukha Dzongda said that, knowing the importance of environment preservation, the Dzongkhag administration is taking action to protect and preserve the environment.

“One of the reasons that Bhutan’s environment is in pristine condition is that Bhutan’s infrastructure density is very low at the moment. But as successive democratic governments try to reach the remote villages with farm roads and electricity, forest loss and habitat fragmentation are permanent and serious issues”, he added.

“It is challenging to preserve the environment and forest because in one way or the other we fail to monitor 100 percent. To give some example, we can never prevent the environment being damaged from natural disasters like forest fire, landslide and floods. But, it is difficult to monitor when people end up cutting forest illegally”, he said.

In between the years 2008-2012, there were a total of 20 reported cases of predatory killing of cattle by wild animals in Chukha Dzongkhag where nine kills were reported to be by leopards while 11 by wolves.

“Human Wildlife Conflict Management Endowment was instituted in 2011 to compensate for cattle damage. The other part of the human wildlife conflict is havoc of crops by wild animals. Somehow, few of the crop depredation cases go unreported, as there is no compensation scheme for agricultural crops. Crop insurance was piloted but without much success as there were limited takers”, he added.

M.N Basnet, Forest Ranger officer of Phuentsholing said that, forest preservation in particular is considered to be challenging. He said that, in general, the number of forest related offences has increased between 2008 and 2012 with a drastic increase from 2011 to 2012.

“The cases have increased from 19 cases in 2008 to 55 cases in 2012. This can be attributed to the sudden boom in construction during the period in Thimphu and Phuentsholing, leading to increased forest resources extraction activities”, he added.

However, he said that, Chukha Dzongkhag as home of some of the wood industries and other factories with woodchip requirement, places a lot of demand on forest resources. Firewood is the largest category of wood supplied.

He also highlighted on migration of wild animals in the border region of the country. He said, as Chukha dzongkhag shares its border with India, there are cross border migration of birds and animals like elephants that use old pathways to access natural forage and resources.

“Some of these pathways criss-cross the international boundary. Any disruption or blockage on the Indian side of their pathway can cause changes in the entire corridors – sometimes coming into agriculture fields and human settlements within Bhutan”, he added. .

Khandu, a farmer from Tshimakha said that, since the Chiwog were helpless with the human-wildlife conflict they had to ask for fund support whereby later they got fund support from Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen’s project.

He said that, “With that fund support we have erected electric fencing in various areas which saves us from wildlife conflict and we as a result got a good quality harvest.”

 

This article was made possible due to support from DoIM

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