Combating land degradation in the country

Land degradation due to natural as well as anthropogenic factors is becoming a serious concern in the country, and to address this, a workshop was conducted on assessing the economic benefits of sustainable land management (SLM) with an aim to identity potential policies that are beneficial for long-term growth.
Minister for Agriculture and Forests, Yeshey Dorji, said, “Land degradation is increasingly becoming an issue of serious concern, both locally and globally.”
Lyonpo said population growth, poverty and unsustainable use of land and shrinking natural resource base for food production, grazing, industries, infrastructure development and urbanization without environmental considerations in ecologically fragile landscape as the key causes at global level.
Lyonpo also brought up some other causes of land degradation saying, “Excessive use of forest resources, overgrazing, unsustainable agricultural practices, poor irrigation system management, construction of infrastructure without proper environmental measures, mining, industrial development and urbanization were identified as some of the main causes of land degradation at local level.”
The government has been implementing various programs and projects that in one way or the other contributed to minimizing land degradation since the beginning of Five Year Plans in early 1960s.
“MoAF is responsible and mandated for policies, plans and programs that ensure sustainable management of agriculture, forest and livestock resources for the socio-economic development and environmental well-being of the Bhutanese people,” Lyonpo added.
During the one-day workshop, experts from International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) based in Washington, USA presented their study findings and technical papers on policy implications, changes in the landscape, impact of SLM on sedimentation and economic impacts of SLM.
The workshop came to conclusion with the resolution to address several issues such as land use change and impact on sediment loading in hydro-electric plants, impacts of roads, land tenure, extension services on land management practices, economic costs and benefits of SLM practices as compared to land degrading processes, current and future investments that are both profitable and sustainable and policy implications of the research finding on SLM in Bhutan.
MoAF started according unrelenting importance to SLM in the country, especially after the 2004 flash floods in the eastern part of the country, as well as after seeing increasing number of land degradation due to natural and anthropogenic factors which is huge concern for the country.
The workshop was jointly organized by IFPRI and NSSC with fund support from the World Bank.

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