Community forest plans to ward off smuggler

The porous border along Samtse has unwittingly invited a lot of unfavorable issues concerning illegal felling of timber; illegal collection of sand, boulders and river bed materials, firewood, fishing and grazing of cattle.

While there are efforts in place to resolve these issues amicably through regular dialogues between the two governments in forums such as Border District Coordination Meeting which is held bi-annually, forest officials are exploring the idea of creating Community Forests (CFs) to stop the illegal operations.

The Divisional Forest Officer of Samtse Forest Division, Kaka Tshering, said that the Division in collaboration with the dzongkhag has come up with the suggestion to create community forests in the area.

To this, the communities in the area has willingly agreed and the plan has been forwarded to the Department of Forests and Park Services for technical review and approval. Once the CF is approved, the Forest resources in that area will be legally owned by the communities of the area, he said.

Further, he said that Samtse Dzongkhag has also proposed one of the caves in the area as an eco-tourism site which may enhance rural livelihood in the area and it may also help reduce illegal forest activities in that particular area.

Most of the illegal activities happen during monsoon season. The Kaileshwardangra area where such incidences occur becomes inaccessible during the monsoon season.  The miscreants usually use vehicle tyre tubes to float across the river during the period, said Kaka Tshering.

The villagers at Tading geog say that in the absence of an outpost for rangers and swollen rivers during summer, people of Tota tribe make the most of it.

Currently, only three forestry staffs are posted in Tading Beat office, therefore the Division office normally sends patrolling teams to the area to support the staff in curbing such offences. Patrolling units are also  dispensed whenever informations are received from informers regarding illegal activities in the area.

Illegal timber felling is frequent along the border areas,  Kaileshwar dangra area near Phuentsholing,  Kalapani in Gomtu and  Khanavorty  are the  areas where people across the border  cut trees illegally.

Trees cut are of mixed hardwood category and smugglers cut any tree in vicinity. A recent article by the local media reported that around 15 people with arms and ammunitions will be stationed in camps in Tading from November.


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