The Major Environmental Issues in Bhutan

Challenges to Bhutan's pristine environment.

Bhutan is developing very rapidly and has experienced enormous transformation with these positive transformations, Bhutan face numerous challenges amongst which environmental issues are one of the major. Environmental issue includes waste management issue, pollution, population growth and deforestation. Therefore, it is, thus,  important to know environmental issues and the way to tackle these issues. In this note, I have mentioned the major environmental issues and different ways in which these issues can be tackled.


  1. Some of major environmental issues in Bhutan

Waste Management: Although the majority of Bhutanese people are being aware of waste management as they use the waste properly by dumping in the pit or in proper places. The main problem of waste management arises or took places in remote places and especially in labour camps, where waste is thrown carelessly. Thus there is a need to carry out waste management campaigns on a regular basis for different target groups. In order to help environmental conservation target specific problem areas, remote places and data has been further analyzed into gewogs/ block wise. The remote gewogs were having highest waste management problems as they are uneducated, illiterate and they never think for their future sustainable. Waste management problem was reported as highest by students, followed by farmers, teachers and travelers as when travelers are going for tour they throw waste out of the car or buses. Thus waste management camping need to be organized on a regular basis targeting also transport owners and travelers as well. On the waste disposal practice 88 percent disposed there waste in proper places followed by one person each who dispose waste in the river, forest and also buried the waste and 9 percent did not respond. Although majority of the target groups seems to dump their waste in the pit but it is also a concern that some do not dump their waste improperly. thus there is need to train people and educate on proper waste management methods based on the three principles of reduce, reuse and recycle is possible and also to segregate waste into degradable and non -biodegradable and train people make fertilizer out of degradable or organic waste.

Pollution is contamination of the environment by a chemical other agent such as noise or heat that is harmful to human health and survival. Polluting chemicals can affect the environment directly such as from volcanic eruptions or through human activities such as burning coals and gases. Dumping of chemical into river and other ocean will also lead to polluting the environment negatively. Pollution can be categorized as water, soil, noise, thermal and nuclear pollution. This is all due to short-term economic gain made by human. So it can be solved by charging external cost high on those goods which have high pollution on environment.

According to the census of 2003 the population of Bhutan is 6,34,982 and its growth rate is 2 percent per year.(CAPSED,BHSEC XII text) When the population is growing at a rapid rate it will lead to affect on environment as they need more land for cultivation and even for construction of houses for survival. When there is more population it leads to the usage of more resources, even for their own benefits and as a result there will be no proper sustainable developing for future and even poor people they can start doing fishing, attacking animals and species for their survival and it will lead to development of a countries economy as if there is more people there will be more labor force and country will achieve more trading it is very harmful to the environment as there is chances of wasting resources and no proper sustainable in the country. But when a country is going high on economic growth it will help in making the proper use of the resources and they will use high skilled labor force to utilize properly and think for the future purpose.

Precious plant and trees are becoming extinct as a result of clearing of the forest. The requirement of land for big open cast projects or plans is quite large. Many of the forest areas, many a times, are converted to fields. There for large forest areas are deforested to make a way for large open cast factories or industries. For that reason we have to organize some methods to preserve our environment such as planting trees in prone areas, practice of afforestation methods. Consumer is the one who have right to stop worldwide deforestation. Being a part of consumer we have right to charge high on those companies who have high environmental effect. By buying recycled or certified wood products, only supporting brands with zero deforestation policies, and getting others to do the same by sending a message to companies to embrace zero deforestation policies.

So many trees are cut down and burned in rural areas. The only reason to do so is to practice temporary agriculture such as Tseri culture or shifting cultivation. Those lands are used till its productivity declines. As the productively, people has the tendency to select new plot of land and produce the same method. Such agricultural methods have resulted in environmental problem.

  1. Environment conservation policy and strategy of Bhutan

Environmental conservation is not a new concept to Bhutanese. It has always been at the center of national development thinking and policy making. Over a year government set up a strong conservation policies and law has evolved to ensure protection, management and sustainable use of biodiversity resources. Bhutan conservation policies and laws are contributing to the overarching national development objective of GNH. This is based on sustainable development as one of its four pillars. According to the constitution of the kingdom of Bhutan, which enshrines environmental conservation as a constitutional mandate (Constitution, 2008).

Renewable natural Resources sector policy. The RNR sector policy give importance on attaining greater national food security, conserving and managing natural resources, enhancing rural income, and generating farm based employment opportunities.

  1. Objectives

To encourage economic development that has respect for long term sustainable development on the country's resources, comparative advantages, and community based self-help institutions. To pursue balance and equitable development of the country renewable natural resources, distributions of benefits among their society and regions. To be sensitive and responsive to the rich culture heritage of the country and its preservation.

  1. Community forest management

It was introduced in the country in the 1980s. Its main objective was to improve local forest conditions through community management Enhancing socio-economic benefits to the local communities in terms of increased access to forest products such as timber, fuel wood, fodder and non-wood forest products. It is responsible for all the communities� member such as chair person. Resub which means responsible for taking care of forest and looking after the person whether they are doing harm on forest or not. Not only the community member but it is also responsible for all the citizen of Bhutan to take care of our rich environment. Until 2001, there was only one community forest unit, which was established with the community of Dozam village in Dramatis gewog, Mongar in 1997. Since 2001, a total of 117 community forest units collectively covering 15,489 ha of forest land have been established across the country and lastly landmark year for the community forest management program were in 2008. (UNDP, MOA, DOF, 2009).

  1. Environmental Protection Act, 2007

Bhutan has a long tradition of living in harmony with nature, which is firmly by the resolution of the parliament to maintain a minimum of sixty percent of country's land under forest cover in perpetuity (Environmental Protection Act, 2007). This act organizes mainly to provide for the establishment of an effective system to conserve and protect environment through the National Environment Commission or its successor, designation of competent authorities and constitution of other advisor competitive, so as to independently regulate and promote sustainable development in an equitable manner and also the people and government in succession shall consider and adopt it developmental policies, plans and programs in harmony with the environment principles (Environmental act, 2008).

  1. Mines and Minerals management Act, 1995

The mineral management and mines Act was introduced in 1995. Its main objectives are preservation, protection, sitting of environmental standards and conservation of natural resources constant with the provision of the Act and other environmental legislation as a critical feature of mining practice. It is responsible for both business firm and government sector to restoration of areas that are mined is carried out in a proper manner with the objective of creating sustainable and acceptable environment as approved by the national environment commission. In exercise of the power's conferred by article 50 of the mines and minerals management Act of 1995, the ministry of trade, industry mines and minerals management regulations 2002. They kept records of mining operation including environmental protection quality standards adopted by the national environment commission. (Mines and Minerals Management Act, 1995)

  1. Environmental Conservation Policy in Bhutan

Bhutan's development philosophy is most well enunciates in the statement of His Majesty the King Jigme Singye Wangchuk said that, "Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product."(Majhi, 2005 p228) From the concept of GNH it changed the mind of Bhutanese people and they are having concern to our rich biodiversity and environment in accordance with international standards may have unwillingly contributed to a hardening of traditional attitudes and values. And also Bhutanese people are organizing some organization which is related to environment preserve and promote environment for sustainable development. They realizes that main source of their income is from environment and gained some sense of respect to environment and doing work on reforestation. For example, if they are cutting down if two trees for construction purpose, in return they are planting doubled environment. They are giving more important to rules and regulations passed by the government which is related to environment. The success of environmental conservation is community forest management as government is giving full responsible to each and every gewogs in Bhutan for the conservation purpose and it is responsible for all the gewog chairpersons to take care of it. And chairperson has full power of royalties. He/she has to submit records to government agency as how many trees are lost in previous year and for what purpose. For the shortcoming natural disaster, it is responsible for all the Bhutanese people to plant trees in prone areas. The chairperson is responsible to report to government about any consequences on environment. They are responsible to take care of the forest and protect the forest. The budgets generated are divided among members charging small rate of interest. Members are allowed to enjoy the products of the forest legally.

In this industrialized world where technologies have the revolution of human worlds environmental disasters are very much prompt and delicate. Modern technologist has far reaching affects such as air pollution, water pollution, and even the eco-system is disturbed. Human habitation with implementation of advanced technologies has caused immense destruction to the environment and perhaps this would eventually lead to unbalancing in eco-system. As every nation in the world faces unavoidable environmental issues, Bhutan too shares its own severe consequences. However, with the emerged of National Environmental Commission and other agencies, Bhutan particularly adopted and implements different environmental policies and strategies to minimize the destruction causes to the environment. In spite of the effort from the government, environment issues are still irresistible.

Lobzang Dorji


Bharuch, E. (2005).Text book of Environmental studies for under graduate courses.University press. India.

Gyeltshen.k (2008), Evaluation report on environmental education program in Thimshingla national park. Kuensel Corporation limited, Thimphu.

Gurung.T (2009), Biodiversity action plan 2009.KMT printing press, Thimphu.

Majhi, C.P. (2005), Economics class 12 BHSEC .Megah publication, Thimphu.


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