About ICIMOD

Bhutan

Focal Ministry/Institution

Ministry of Agriculture and Forests
Royal Government of Bhutan
P.O. Box 252, Taschichhodzong
Thimphu, Bhutan

Dasho Tenzin Dhendup
Secretary
Tel: 975 2 322379, 322129
Direct:975 2 326735 (office)
Fax: 975 2 326834, 323153

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small, mountainous, landlocked country in South Asia, located in the eastern Himalayas. It is bordered to the north by China and to the south, east and west by India. Bhutan`s capital and largest city is Thimphu. According to the National Portal of Bhutan, the country lies between latitudes 26' 45N & 280" 10N, and longitudes 88' 45'E & 92' 10E. Bhutan has a total area of 38,394 square kilometers. It`s physical geography consists mostly of steep and high mountains interlaced by a network of rivers, which form deep valleys before pouring into the Indian plains. The land rises from 200 in the southern foothills to 7000 meters high northern mountains. Bhutan`s highest peak Jhomo Lhari, overlooking the Chumbi Valley in the west, is 7,314 meters above sea level. About 72.5 % of the area is under forests, and the law requires the country to maintain 60 % forests cover for all times to come. Southern Bhutan has a hot, humid sub-tropical climate that is fairly unchanging throughout the year. Temperatures can vary between 15-30 degrees Celsius. According to the World Bank, the per capita gross national income (GNI), is one of the highest in South Asia, and has consistently increased from $730 in 2000 to $2,070 in 2011. Agriculture is the backbone of the Bhutanese economy which contributes about 33% of the GDP and about 70% of the population depends on it for livelihood.

The fifth Druk Gyalpo, His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck acceded to the throne on December 14, 2006 and was crowned on November 6, 2008. The head of government is the Prime Minister, who is elected from the ruling political party. The 4th Druk Gyalpo, in 1972, declared that Gross National Happiness (GNH) rather than GNP should be the nation’s principal index for measuring progress. According to the Gross National Happiness commission, GNH is a “multi-dimensional development approach that seeks to achieve a harmonious balance between material well-being and the spiritual, emotional and cultural needs of the society”. GNH has been classified into nine domains and they are: psychological wellbeing, health, education, time use, cultural diversity and resilience, good governance, community vitality, ecological diversity and resilience, and living standards.

As per Human Development Report 2013 UNDP, Bhutan’s HDI value for 2013 is 0.584, which is in the medium human development category positioning the country at 136 out of 187 countries and territories. According to the Ministry of Tourism Bhutan, the Bhutanese name for the country is Druk Yul which means "Land of the Thunder Dragon". Druk, the thunder dragon is the national symbol for Bhutan which even appears on the national flag. Bhutan is a Buddhist country and its national language is Dzongkha. One of the most distinct features of the Bhutanese is their traditional dress, distinctive garments that have evolved over thousands of years. Women wear the Kira, a long, ankle-length dress accompanied by a light outer jacket known as a Tego. Men wear the Gho, a knee-length robe somewhat resembling a kimono. In terms of Bhutanese cuisine, rice forms the main body of most Bhutanese meals and spicy chilies are an essential part of almost every dish. Bhutan's national sport is Dha, or archery. At festivals in Bhutan, masked dances and dance dramas accompanied by traditional music is a common sight. The major religious festivals are called tshechus. They last three to five days and people engage in music, dance and drinking.
Source: http://www.gnhc.gov.bt/
http://www.tourism.gov.bt/
http://web.archive.org/web/20120423102833/http://www.bhutan.gov.bt/government/aboutbhutan.php
http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/bhutan/overview
http://hdr.undp.org/sites/all/themes/hdr_theme/country-notes/BTN.pdf

Official name

The Kingdom of Bhutan

Short name

Bhutan

Capital

Thimphu

Government type

Constitutional monarchy

Geographic coordinates

27 30 N, 90 30 E*

Total Population

733,643*

Sex ratio

1.1 male(s) / female (2014 est.)*

Population distribution according to age

0-14 years: 27.3% (male 102,196 / female 97,923)
15-24 years: 20.1% (male 75,327/female 72,472),
25-54 years: 40.8% (male 159,868 / female 139,236)
55-64 years: 5.8% (male 22,769 / female 19,699)
65 years and over: 6% (male 23,153 / female 21,000) (2014 est.)*

Literacy rate

64.9%*

National Language

Sharchhopka 28%, Dzongkha (official) 24%, Lhotshamkha 22%, other 26% (includes foreign languages) (2005 est.)*

Nationalities

Bhutanese

Ethnic group

Ngalop (also known as Bhote) 50%, ethnic Nepalese 35% (includes Lhotsampas - one of several Nepalese ethnic groups), indigenous or migrant tribes 15%* Religion Lamaistic Buddhist 75.3%, Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 22.1%, other 2.6% (2005 est.)* National flag National Flag of Bhutan is divided diagonally with a white dragon in the center of the flag. The dragon is snarling and clutches jewels in its claws.*)

Religion

Lamaistic Buddhist 75.3%, Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 22.1%, other 2.6% (2005 est.)* National flag National Flag of Bhutan is divided diagonally with a white dragon in the center of the flag. The dragon is snarling and clutches jewels in its claws.*

National flag
 

National Flag of Bhutan is divided diagonally with a white dragon in the center of the flag. The dragon is snarling and clutches jewels in its claws.*

National symbol

There is a jewel on all sides with two dragons on the vertical sides. The thunderbolts represent the harmony between secular and religious power while the lotus symbolizes purity. The jewel signifies the sovereign power while the dragons (male and female) represent the name of the country DrukYul or the Land of the Dragon.*

National animal

Dong Gyem Tsey' or Takin

National flower

Blue Poppy, the National Flower of Bhutan, is  known locally as 'Euitgel Metog Hoem’. Its biological name is Meconopsis grandis.

National bird
 

The Raven is the Bhutan's national bird.

National Tree
 

Cypress or Cupressus torulosa is the National Tree of Bhutan. Locally, it is known as ‘Tsenden’. It is also referred to as Bhutan Cypress or Himalayan Cypress.

As per * https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bt.html
Sources: http://www.himalaya2000.com/bhutan/national-symbols/index.html

Major Economic Statistics

GDP (purchasing power parity)$5.867 billion (2014 est.)
GDP composition by sector of originAgriculture: 14.4%
Industry: 41.6%
Services: 44% (2014 est.)
Gross national saving 26.6% of GDP (2014 est.)
Labor force345,800
Labor force by occupationAgriculture: 56%
Industry: 22%
Services: 22% (2013 est.)
Unemployment rate2.9% (2013 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)8.6% (2014 est.)
Population below poverty line 12% (2012)
Export$650.3 million (2014 est.)
Export CommoditiesElectricity (to India), ferrosilicon, cement, calcium carbide, copper wire, manganese, vegetable oil
Imports$980.6 million (2014 est.)
Import commoditiesFuel and lubricants, passenger cars, machinery and parts, fabrics, rice
Exchange ratesngultrum (BTN) per US dollar - 60.42 (2014 est.)

Brief on Economy of Bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small, mountainous, landlocked country in South Asia, located in the eastern Himalayas, bordered by India and China. Bhutan is home to a population of about 740,000 spread over approximately 47,000 square kilometers, roughly the size of Switzerland, with about 70% of its land under forest cover. Much of the population lives in the central highlands, and almost two-thirds are classified as rural inhabitants. The terrain is mostly mountainous, with alpine peaks in the north and some sub-tropical foothills in the south. Per capita gross national income (GNI), one of the highest in South Asia, has consistently risen from $730 in 2000 to $2,070 in 2011.
Bhutan has seen significant political changes in recent years. In 2008, the country undertook a transition from an absolute monarchy into a constitutional monarchy and multi-party democracy, following a decade of planning and public consultations. After 34 years on the throne, the Fourth King, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, stepped down on Dec. 9, 2006, in favor of his son, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. A constitution was prepared, following a process led by the chief justice, involving widespread public consultations within Bhutan and with the international community. The new democratic system comprises a National Council and a National Assembly, the latter based on political party affiliations. Elections for the National Council were held on Dec. 31, 2007, while elections for the National Assembly were held on March 24, 2008. The next elections are scheduled for the first half of 2013.
Bhutan’s economy has expanded at a robust pace driven by the hydropower sector. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is estimated at nearly 8% in 2011/12 (from 8.5% in 2010/11) and is projected to reach 12.5% in 2012/13 due to the acceleration in hydropower-related construction. Inflation has risen, reaching 13.5% in the second quarter of 2012, with both food and non-food components accelerating. Bhutan’s medium-term outlook is favorable, as growth should remain strong at around 8%–9%, driven by hydropower, manufacturing, and domestic services. The current account deficit has widened to an estimated 23% of GDP in 2011/12, driven in part by strong imports related to the hydropower sector, but the overall balance of payments deficit was 5% of GDP due to sizable grants and loan disbursements. Strong growth in domestic demand has fueled the demand for Indian rupees (since about 80% of Bhutan’s imports are from India), contributing to a rupee shortage. Convertible currency reserves, however, are broadly adequate ($723 million in July 2012).Overall, Bhutan’s development has been rapid. Until the 1950s, Bhutan was largely isolated from the rest of the world, and its dispersed rural population depended on subsistence agriculture. Once it started a gradual process of opening up to the outside world in the 1960s, the country embarked on a far-reaching development strategy that has been articulated in a series of five-year development plans. The Tenth Five-Year Plan (2008-2013) is currently under implementation, and constitutes the basis for the country’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. The plan’s overall objective is to reduce poverty from 23% in 2007 to 15% by 2012-13. The 11th Five-Year Plan is under preparation and expected to be implemented in July 2013, after the country’s second elected government is in place.
Bhutan is on track to achieve its Millennium Development Goals. However, while the poverty rate has fallen from 36% in 2000 to 23% in 2008, the MDG mid-term report notes worsening of conditions affecting those suffering from severe poverty. Household food security is linked to low food production and weak agricultural productivity, limited access to land and other productive assets, extensive crop destruction by wildlife and pests, inadequate opportunities for rural employment, poor food use, and weak access to road and transport infrastructure. Bhutan's mountainous terrain is a fundamental constraint to growth and rural poverty reduction. Poor road access isolates a large proportion of rural people from markets and social services, and limits their livelihood to subsistence agriculture. The government of Bhutan and development partners have responded to this constraint by constructing more than 1,500 kilometers of farm roads and tracks since 2003. The proportion of rural people within one hour walking distance of a road head increased from 40% in 2000 to 53% in 2008. The proportion of people residing within six hours walking distance from a road has increased from 84% to 90%.
Bhutan is characterized by good progress in human development, particularly in urban areas, and the increasing availability and use of public services throughout the country. However, this progress has been slower to reach more remote areas. Expansion of key infrastructure, including rural roads and urban municipal services, is needed for broader economic and social transformation in the country. Over the past decade, social indicators have improved. Life expectancy at birth has risen from 65 years in 2005 to 69 years in 2010. Infant mortality per 1,000 live births has been reduced from 59 in 2005 to 44 in 2011. Maternal mortality rates in 2010 were estimated at 180 deaths per 100,000 live births. Literacy and education enrollment rates have also risen with a net enrollment rate in primary schools of 89% in 2010. Unlike much of the rest of South Asia, primary school enrollment among girls is higher than boys in many urban areas, and nationwide almost half of primary school students are girls. Property rights are also much more equal than in most of South Asia, with women rather than men inheriting property in some areas. However, there is growing youth unemployment. As youth comprise almost 59% of the population, adequate job creation will depend on robust private sector development, combined with initiatives to increase skills and employability.
Source: http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/bhutan/overview

Industries

Major industries are cement, wood products, processed fruits, alcoholic beverages, calcium carbide and tourism.
Source: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bt.html

Agriculture

Major agricultural products are rice, corn, root crops, citrus; dairy products and eggs.
Source: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bt.html

Location

The Kingdom of Bhutan has a total area of 38 390 km2 and is landlocked between the extensive borders of China and India . The country shares a 470 km long border with Tibet, China’s Xizang Autonomous Region, to the north and northwest and 605 km with the Indian states of Sikkim to the west, West Bengal to the southwest, Assam to the south and southeast, and Arunachal Pradesh to the east. Sikkim is 88 km wide, and separates Bhutan from Nepal, while West Bengal, which is 60 km wide, separates Bhutan from Bangladesh. The border with Tibet follows the watershed of the Chumbi valley in the northwest and the crest of the Himalayas in the north, while the southern border with India was established by treaty with the British in the nineteenth century and follows the line made by the Himalayan foothills with the plains. For administrative purposes, Bhutan is divided into 20 dzongkhag (districts).
Source: http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/countries_regions/btn/index.stm

Area

The Kingdom of Bhutan has a total area of 38 390 km2. Bhutan, being in the eastern Himalayas, is mostly mountainous, with flat land limited to the broader river valleys and along the foothills bordering the Indian subcontinent. Altitudes range from 7 500 m at the summit of Kula Kangri on the northern border to about 200 m at the Indian border in the south. The country has three major landform features: the southern foothills, the inner Himalayas and the higher Himalayas. Owing to the extremely rugged mountainous terrain, only 100 000 ha or 3 percent of the total area is cultivated in 2009, of which 25 000 ha is under permanent crops. The country is heavily forested, 72.5 percent being under forests, and 10 percent is covered with year-round snow and glaciers.
Source: http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/countries_regions/btn/index.stm

Border Countries

China 477 km, India 659 km (MAP HERE)

Climate

Bhutan has perhaps the greatest diversity of climate of any country of its size in the world. The climate is humid and subtropical on the southern plains and in the foothills, temperate in the inner Himalayan valleys of the southern and central regions, and cold in the north, with year-round snow on the main Himalayan summits. Bhutan’s generally dry spring starts in early March and lasts until mid-April. Summer weather starts in mid-April with occasional showers and continues through the early monsoon rains of late June. Autumn, from late September or early October to late November, follows the rainy season. It is characterized by bright, sunny days and some early snowfall at higher elevations. Winter sets in from late November until March, with frost throughout much of the country and snowfall common above elevations of 3 000 m.
Temperatures vary according to elevation. In the capital Thimphu, located at 2 320 m above sea level in west-central Bhutan, temperatures range between 14 °C to 25 °C during the monsoon season of June through September but drop to about –4 °C and 14 °C in January. Most of the central portion of the country experiences a cool, temperate climate year-round. In the south, a hot, humid climate helps maintain a fairly even temperature range of between 15 °C and 30 °C year-round; although temperatures sometimes rise above 35 °C in the valleys during the summer.
Average annual precipitation in Bhutan is roughly 2 200 mm. It varies widely in various parts of the country, from a low of 477 mm at Gidakhom in Thimpu district to as high as 20 761 mm at Dechenling in Samdrup Jhongkhar district. The climate of the north is severe and cold with only about 40 mm of annual precipitation, primarily snow. In the temperate central regions, a yearly average rainfall of around 1 000 mm is more common and 7 800 mm has been registered at some locations in the humid, subtropical south, giving rise to the thick tropical forest. Thimphu experiences dry winter months from December through February and almost no precipitation until March, when rainfall averages 20 mm/month and increases steadily thereafter to a high of 220 mm in August making a total annual rainfall of about 650 mm. The summer monsoon lasts from late June through late September with heavy rains from the southwest. The monsoon weather, blocked from its northward progress by the Himalayas, brings heavy rains, high humidity, flash floods and landslides, and numerous misty, overcast days. Western Bhutan is particularly affected by monsoons that bring between 60 and 90 percent of the region’s rainfall. The winter northeast monsoon brings gale-force winds down through high mountain passes.
Source: http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/countries_regions/btn/index.stm

Terrain

Mostly mountainous with some fertile valleys and savanna
Source: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bt.html

Mountain Peaks

Physically, Bhutan may be divided into three regions from north to south: the Great Himalayas, the Lesser Himalayas, and the Duars Plain. The northern part of Bhutan lies within the Great Himalayas; the snowcapped peaks in this region reach an elevation of more than 24,000 feet (7,300 metres). High valleys occur at elevations of 12,000 to 18,000 feet (3,700 to 5,500 metres), running down from the great northern glaciers. Alpine pastures on the high ranges are used for grazing yaks in the summer months. To the north of the Great Himalayas are several “marginal” mountains of the Plateau of Tibet that form the principal watershed between the northward- and the southward-flowing rivers. Spurs from the Great Himalayas radiate southward, forming the ranges of the Lesser Himalayas (also called Inner Himalayas). The north-south ranges of the Lesser Himalayas constitute watersheds between the principal rivers of Bhutan. Differences in elevation and the degree of exposure to moist southwest monsoon winds determine the prevailing vegetation, which ranges from dense forest on the rain-swept windward slopes to alpine vegetation at higher elevations. Several fertile valleys of central Bhutan are in the Lesser Himalayas at elevations varying from 5,000 to 9,000 feet (1,500 to 2,700 metres). South of the Lesser Himalayas and the foothills lies the narrow Duars Plain, which forms a strip 8 to 10 miles (12 to 16 km) wide along the southern border of Bhutan. The Himalayan ranges rise sharply and abruptly from this plain, which constitutes a gateway to the strategic mountain passes (known as dwars or dooars) that lead into the fertile valleys of the Lesser Himalayas.
Source: http://www.britannica.com/place/Bhutan

Please look at the following table for more information on mountains of Bhutan :
Major Mountain PeaksBrief Detail
Gangkhar PuensumGangkhar Puensum is the highest mountain in Bhutan and a strong candidate for the highest unclimbed mountain in the world with an elevation of 7,570 metres and a prominence of over 2990 metres.
Liangkang KangriLiangkang Kangri is a 24,718 ft / 7,534 m mountain peak near Chāpar, Assam, India. Based on peakery data, it ranks as the 2nd highest mountain in Bhutan.
JomolhariJomolhari is a 23,996 ft / 7,314 m mountain peak in the Himalaya Range in Bhutan. Based on peakery data, it ranks as the 3rd highest mountain in Bhutan
JomolhariJomolhari is a 23,996 ft / 7,314 m mountain peak in the Himalaya Range in Paro, Bhutan.
Kangphu Kang IKangphu Kang I is a 23,688 ft / 7,220 m mountain peak near Jamālpur, Bangladesh (general), Bangladesh. Based on peakery data, it ranks as the 5th highest mountain in Bhutan
TongshanjiabuTongshanjiabu is a 23,645 ft / 7,207 m mountain peak near Mathba, Barisāl, Bangladesh. Based on peakery data, it ranks as the 6th highest mountain in Bhutan
Kula KangriKula Kangri is a 21,195 ft / 6,460 m mountain peak near Gyangzê, Xizang, China. Based on peakery data, it ranks as the 25th highest mountain in Xizang
Black MountainBlack Mountain is a 15,005 ft / 4,574 m mountain peak near Tongsa, Tongsa, Bhutan. Based on peakery data, it ranks as the 1st highest mountain in Tongsa and the 9th highest mountain in Bhutan
Gyemo ChenGyemo Chen is a 13,386 ft / 4,080 m mountain peak near Xarsingma, Xizang, China. Based on peakery data, it ranks as the 10th highest mountain in Bhutan
Source: http://peakery.com/region/bhutan-mountains/

Water and Energy

Total annual internal renewable surface water resources are an estimated 78 km3 (Table 3). Because of the mountainous character of the country, groundwater resources are probably limited and are drained by the surface water network, which means they are more or less equal to overlap between surface water and groundwater. Surface water leaving the country to India is an estimated 78 km3. Nearly every valley in Bhutan has a swiftly flowing river or stream, fed either by the perennial snow, the summer monsoon or both. Except for a small river in the extreme north, which flows north, all rivers flow south towards India. The river basins are oriented north-south and are, from west to east, the Jaldhaka, Amo (Torsa), Wang (Raidak), Mo, Puna Tsang (Sankosh), Mao Khola/Aie, Manas (Lhobrak) and eastern river basins, this last basin is composed of the Bada and Dhansiri rivers.Most rivers are deeply incised into the landscape and hence the possibilities for run-of-the-river irrigation are limited. There are only two wastewater collection and treatment projects in the cities of Thimphu and Phuntsholing. There are numerous natural lakes, many are located above 3 300 m and some above 4 200 m, which are primarily used to raise fish. Several large dams have been constructed to generate hydroelectric power. These include the 40 m high Chhuka dam (CHPP) on the Wang river in Chhukha district in the southwest, the 91 m high Tala-Wankha dam further downstream on the Raidak river near Phuntsholing town, the 33 m high Kurichhu dam on the Kuri river in Mongar district in the east, the Basochu dam (BHPP) near Wangduephodrang town in the centre-west. The 141 m high Punatsangchu dam on Puna Tsang river downstream of Wangduephodrang town is under construction.

Total hydropower generation capacity was 477 MW in 2006, of which 336 MW from the Chhukha hydropower plant, 60 MW from the Kurichu hydropower plant and 24 MW from the Bashocu hydropower plant. Hydropower represented 96 percent of the country’s electricity generating capacity and 99.9 percent of its electricity generation in 2006. With the commissioning of the first two units of the Chhukha hydroprojects in 1986, and the other two units in 1998, the electricity generation capacity substantially increased and Bhutan became a significant exporter of electricity to India. With the commissioning of the Tala Hydro Power Project in 2007, there has been a substantial improvement in the country’s energy generation.

The expansion of hydropower production capacity has had an enormous impact as, by the end of the Ninth Five-year Plan (2002-2007), the energy sector contributed to around one-quarter of GDP. With a further doubling of capacity envisaged by the end of the Eleventh Five-year Plan (2014-2019), the energy sector will probably contribute close to half of GDP.

The following hydroelectric projects have been identified for future development:
  • Mangdue Chu Hydroelectric Project, with the cooperation of Norway, was planned in the Ninth Five-year Plan (2002-2007) and it is expected to be completed in the Tenth Five-year Plan (2008–2013). The project comprises two dams.
  • Sunkosh Multipurpose Project (SMP) is the largest proposed hydroelectricity project in Bhutan.
  • International water issues
  • The Chhukha Hydropower Corporation (CHPC) was entirely funded by the Government of India. The construction of the Chhukha hydroelectric plant started in 1978 and was operational in 1988.
  • The Tala Hydroelectric Project Authority (THPA) is the biggest Indo-Bhutan joint project, entirely funded by the Government of India (GOI) by way of grants and loans and has been fully operational since 2007.
The Basochu Upper Stage Hydropower Project, commissioned in 2005, is financed by the Austrian Government. The Punatsangchu Hydroelectric Power Project (PHPP) is a proposed project between Bhutan and India signed in 2003. It is a run-of-the-river scheme along the course of the Puna Tsang river, downstream from the town of Wangduephodrang. It will have an installed capacity of 870 MW with an annual average generation of 4 330 GWh.
Source: http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/countries_regions/btn/index.stm

Land

Bhutan is a mountainous country, with an estimated area of about 46 500 km2. It is bounded by the Tibetan plateau of China in the north, India in the east and south and Sikkim (now part of India) in the west. The country is normally classified into three geographical zones: the foothills, a 20 km-wide strip in the south, rising to an altitude of 1 500 m; the middle mountains, rising gradually to an altitude of 5 000 m; and the high mountains, with altitudes reaching over 7 500 m (Bhutan's two highest mountains are Jhumo Lhari at 7 541 m and Kula Kangri at 7 314 m). Flat land is limited to a few relatively broad river valleys in the mid country and a small section just below the foothills.

The population of Bhutan was estimated to be almost 600 000 in 1993, and was 90 percent rural. Estimated population growth rate has remained at about 2 percent since the 1950s, and life expectancy is 45.8 years for men and 49.1 for women.
Source: http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/v8380e/v8380e03.htm

Agricultural land: 13.6% Arable land 2.6%; permanent crops 0.3%; permanent pasture 10.7% Forest: 85.5% Other: 0.9% (2011 est.)
Source: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bt.html

Forest

According to the U.N. FAO, 69.1% or about 3,249,000 ha of Bhutan is forested, according to FAO. Of this 12.7% ( 413,000 ) is classified as primary forest, the most biodiverse and carbon-dense form of forest. Bhutan had 3,000 ha of planted forest. Change in Forest Cover: Between 1990 and 2010, Bhutan lost an average of 10,700 ha or 0.35% per year. In total, between 1990 and 2010, Bhutan gained 7.1% of its forest cover, or around 214,000 ha.

Bhutan's forests contain 336 million metric tons of carbon in living forest biomass. Biodiversity and Protected Areas: Bhutan has some 748 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles according to figures from the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Of these, 1.1% are endemic, meaning they exist in no other country, and 5.3% are threatened. Bhutan is home to at least 5468 species of vascular plants, of which 1.4% are endemic. 29.6% of Bhutan is protected under IUCN categories I-V.
Source: http://rainforests.mongabay.com/deforestation/2000/Bhutan.htm

Wildlife and Habitats

Bhutan pristine environment, with high rugged mountains and deep valleys, offers ecosystems that are both rich and diverse. Recognizing the importance of the environment, conservation of its rich biodiversity is one of the government’s development paradigms. The government has enacted a law that shall maintain at least 60% of its forest cover for all time. Today, approximately 72% of the total land area of Bhutan is under forest cover and approximately 60% of the land area falls under protected areas comprising of 10 national parks and sanctuaries. Each of Bhutan’s National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries are an essential part of the Bhutan Biological Conservation Complex – a system of national parks, protected areas and forest corridors covering 60% of the country. Each of these parks and sanctuaries has its own special character and are home to endangered animals, birds and plants. Bhutan is one of the smallest countries in the world. But its commitment to conservation is bigger than most.
Source: http://www.tourism.gov.bt/about-bhutan/environment

Conservation of the environment is one of the four pillars of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness philosophy. As mandated in its constitution, Bhutan preserves (at all times) 60 percent of its land under forest cover. Bhutan has succeeded in doing so. This country is home to the highest percentage – more than 51 percent – of protected land in Asia. Most of it is intact forests interwoven with free-flowing rivers. Evidence of this commitment to conservation is everywhere in Bhutan. Native wildlife—including endangered royal Bengal tigers, elusive snow leopards, elegant black cranes and elephants—all roam free in the country’s 5 million acre network of protected areas. The people of this Buddhist kingdom can hold on to a fundamental birthright: living out life in a healthy environment. And one of the country’s top industries—ecotourism—is thriving and growing. The world benefits, too. Bhutan is in a region that provides water for one-fifth of the world’s population. Bhutan also is at the heart of the Eastern Himalayas, which is one of the world's 10-most biodiverse regions. And Bhutan’s forests help keep the world's climate change at bay by absorbing carbon dioxide.
Source: http://www.worldwildlife.org/projects/bhutan-committed-to-conservation

The kingdom is also home to a wide variety of animals. At higher altitudes you will come across snow leopards, blue sheep, red pandas, takin, marmots and musk deer. Leopards, gorals, gray langurs, Himalayan black bears, red pandas, sambars, wild pigs and barking deer are found in the temperate zones. The tropical forests in the south are a haven for clouded leopards, elephants, one horned Rhinoceros, water buffalos, golden langurs, gaurs, swamp deer, hog deer, horn bills and many other species. Bhutan is home to the highest altitude inhabiting Tigers in the world and they are commonly found throughout the country.
Source: http://www.tourism.gov.bt/activities/flora-and-fauna-

Flora

Bhutan is the perfect destination for enthusiastic horticulturalists as it contains more than 60%of the common plant species found in the Eastern Himalayas. It also boasts of approximately 46 species of Rhododendrons and over 300 types of medicinal plants. Junipers, Magnolias, Orchids, Blue Poppies (the national flower), Edelweiss, Gentian, various medicinal herbs, Daphne, Giant Rhubarb, Pine and Oak trees are among the plants commonly found.
Source: http://www.tourism.gov.bt/activities/flora-and-fauna-

Other Major Resources

Other major resources are timber, hydropower, gypsum and calcium carbonate.
Source: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bt.html

Brief detail

In recent years, Bhutan, like other Himalayan areas, has seen an increase in landslides due to heavier rains, and some glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) as glaciers retreat. The GLOF threat is apparently Bhutan’s strongest climate change challenge so far. Bhutan’s 24 weather stations show a rise in temperature of about 1 degree C in summer and 2 degrees in winter since 2000. Recent studies show a reduction in irrigation water availability in some areas. Other global warming effects – shifting precipitation patterns, changing growing zones, more severe weather, worsening of air and water pollution and water scarcity -- are surely on the increase. So far Bhutan’s land protection and small population density are insulating it from the scale of damaging impacts on environmental and human health seen in neighboring countries.

The Northern Forest Complex, a portion of which extends up to Himalayan peaks Jhomolhari (7314 m) and Jichu Drake (6794 m), seen from the 3800m (12,300 ft) Chele La – the highest road pass in Bhutan. Below the ridge at lower left is the Kila nunnery. As is symbolized in the paintings of longevity and nature protection, the complex of three national parks north of Thimphu provide essential protection of complex ecosystems for the region.

Bhutan’s major rivers (called Chhu in Bhutanese) flow from and through the glaciated Himalaya, and not only feed the hydropower plants currently generating 40 percent of the national revenue, but also are subject to severe flooding as glaciers melt to create large unstable lakes. Bhutan has more percentage of its land covered in glaciers than it does in arable land. As summarized in a 2012 report by the Commission on Gross National Happiness, Bhutan is committed to a high level of environmental protection, but has “a significant risk of the localized impacts caused by global climate change.”

Ancient hemlocks, cypresses, pines and other trees cloak the Black Mountains east of Pele La. The Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan mandates the maintenance of “60 per cent forest cover for all times to come.” Because of this healthy forest, use of hydropower and lack of industry, Bhutan is one of the few countries in the world with net greenhouse gas sequestration, according to the United Nations. In addition, it has established more than half its area as parks, protected areas and biological corridors. Bhutan’s diversity includes more than 5,600 species of plants, nearly 700 species of birds and about 200 species of mammals. The latest reports say that one-third of the of the country's GDP is derived from renewable natural resources – wood, livestock and farm products - which employ 64 percent of the population.

Black-necked cranes (Grus nigricollis) are among the charismatic threatened and endangered species within Bhutan, along with the tiger, red panda, snow leopard, rufous-necked hornbill, rhino, langurs, and many others. International attention on loss of habitat for the migratory cranes lead to administrative protection of a primary wintering area in the Phobjikha Valley of central Bhutan, where more than 300 of the large birds with a 7-8 foot wingspan feed on dwarf bamboo and other plants from October to February. Phobjikha Conservation Area protects about 60 square miles of the valley which is leased by the government to the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN) for the purpose of conservation management. The cranes are also protected from hunting everywhere in Bhutan. Expansion of grazing and farming areas and draining of the wetland habitat are the prime threats to the birds. The RSPN works with farmers to keep strict limits on agricultural use and human traffic through the valley when the cranes are present. Six cranes have been radio tracked since 2006, to help monitor their migration, mating and lifespan. At dawn in November, a rich layer of frost coats the upper valley at an elevation of 3000 m. This area of the valley, which is a broad glacial-carved bowl extending from the Black Mountains to the Punatsang Chhu, is center of an integrated conservation and development Program set up by the RSPN to balance the needs of the human community with the cranes and other parts of the ecosystem. RSPN Crane Center assistant director Tshering Choki commented that climate warming is being reported by local residents, including warmer evenings in the winter, seeing less snow on the hills and valley floor and increasing rainfall and erosion. . Tiny communities of 30 or fewer families ring the Phobjikha Valley, built with the typical three–story Bhutanese farmhouses. Most of the fields are planted with potatoes, a prime export crop. Families typically own less than three acres of farmland, but about 40 percent of households own up to 10 acres, according to the 2011 Gross National Happiness Commission report. Community forests, typically around 100 Ha (250 acres) in size, cloak most of the upper slopes and are used by the individual villages mostly for fodder and firewood. The presence of the cranes provided another reason for protection and conservation – ecotourism, which is now a major source of income in the winter. A November Crane Festival, birding, and trekking routes are the main attractions. Farm and road along the Lekchi stream, a tributary valley of Phobikha. Agriculture is the main source of livelihood in Bhutan, according to government reports. Even though it contributes less than 10 percent of national income, agriculture provides more than 78 percent of monetary income in rural households. Almost 70 per cent of Bhutanese are engaged in subsistence agriculture, but less than eight percent of the land is suitable for farming.

Women at a farm and guest house in Phobjikha Valley feed cows with kitchen scraps. Creating less waste and reducing the needs for fodder from the forest are part of the common environmental awareness of many Bhutanese. Tshering Choki of the RSPN said that organic agriculture is gaining but still much pesticide and agricultural chemicals are used on potatoes, rather than compost. This is one of the challenges ahead in Bhutan’s announced goal of become a fully organic nation. “When we do our [environmental] awareness training,” said Tshering, “we tell people that if you only do one crop you will introduce weed species and reduce nutrients of the soil. Some people do realize that certain weed species could be brought by using herbicides and pesticides.”

Forest preservation is a central tenet in Bhutan’s philosophy and land management, exemplified by Black Mountain National Park – now incorporating part of the Phobjikha Valley and called Jigme Singye Wangchuk National Park after the fourth king. Because it is about 70 percent forested and has such low industrial and vehicle emissions (an insignificant 2040 Gg of CO2 in 2008), Bhutan is a net sink of greenhouse gases. But emissions are rising and a 2011 report said that per capita carbon emissions almost tripled between 1990 and 2000.
Source: http://www.worldviewofglobalwarming.org/himalaya_5/index.php

As a part of the NAPA process, the country has identified key climate change vulnerabilities by sector as presented below:

Forestry and Biodiversity Climate Change Vulnerabilities Include:

  • Drought combined with more frequent lightning may cause greater risk of forest fires;
  • Possible loss of endemic plant and animal species;
  • Change in migratory pattern of transboundary wildlife, which may result in loss/degradation of forest ecosystems and reduction of alpine range lands; and
  • Possible increase in vector-borne disease in wildlife due to warming.

Agriculture Vulnerabilities Include:

  • Possible crop yield instability, loss of production and quality (due to variable rainfall, temperature, etc.), decreased water availability for crop production, and increased risk of extinction of already threatened crop species (traditional crop varieties);
  • Loss of soil fertility due to erosion of top soil and runoff; loss of fields due to flash floods; and loss of soil and nutrients;
  • Crop yield loss (flowers & fruit drop) to hailstorms; deteriorated produce quality (fruit & vegetables) due to unanticipated heavy rains and hailstorms;
  • Delayed sowing (late rainfall), as well as damage to paddy and potato crops due to sudden early and late spring frost respectively; and
  • Outbreak of pests and diseases in fields and during storage where they were previously unknown.

Natural Disaster and Infrastructure Vulnerabilities Include:

  • Debris-covered glaciers forming huge moraine dam lakes that ultimately lead to GLOFs (i.e. flash floods and landslides, heavy siltation of the rivers, and other geotechnical hazards);
  • GLOF will affect “essential” infrastructure, namely: (1) Hydropower systems (generation plants, transmission and distribution infrastructure), Bhutan’s main export product; (2) industrial estates/infrastructure; (3) Human settlements: urban, suburban and rural settlements; (4) Historical and cultural monuments: dzongs, monasteries, chortens, etc.; and (5) Public utilities: roads, bridges and communication systems

Water (and energy) Vulnerabilities Include:

  • Temporal & spatial variation in flow, notably affecting electricity production/exports due to disruption of average flows for optimum hydropower generation;
  • Increased sedimentation of rivers, water reservoirs and distribution network, affecting notably irrigation schemes’ productivity/ agricultural crop yields;
  • Reduced ability of catchment areas to retain water/increased runoffs with enhanced soil erosion (deterioration of environment); and
  • Deterioration of (drinking) water quality.

Human health. Vulnerabilities include:

  • Loss of life from frequent flash floods, GLOF and landslides;
  • Spread of vector-borne tropical disease (malaria, dengue) into more areas (higher elevations) with warming climate; and
  • Loss of safe (drinking) water resources increasing water borne diseases.
Source: http://www.undp-alm.org/explore/bhutan

Bhutan’s climate varies considerably from one area to another due to dramatic changes in topography. The country has three climatic zones: (a) the southern plains, which are subtropical and characterized by high humidity and heavy rainfall; (b) the central belt of flat valleys characterized by cool winters and hot summers, with moderate rainfall; and (c) high valleys with cold winters and cool summers (RGB, 2006). This complex climate is due mainly to the country’s situation at the periphery of the tropical circulation in the north and on the periphery of the Asian monsoon circulation in the south. Summer monsoons typically last from late June through to late September, at times causing flash floods and landslides; monsoons generate approximately 70 per cent of the annual rainfall in Bhutan.

Modeling of the projected impacts of climate change has not yet been undertaken for Bhutan due to a paucity of data and a lack of capacity (RGB, 2009). The meteorological network in the country is limited, with stations limited to inner and southern Bhutan; these stations require manual recording. Climate modeling in Bhutan also faces the additional challenge of handling its complex mountain topography and the implications this geography has on local climatic conditions (RGB, 2009). However, the country’s National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) anticipates that an increasing trend of precipitation will occur (RGB, 2006). This conclusion is consistent with climate modeling for South Asia as a whole, which project that the region will experience: a median increase in Temperature of 2.3oC by 2100; that the greatest amount of warming will take place at higher altitudes; precipitation during the dry season will decline by 5 per cent by 2100, but during the remainder of the year will increase by a median of 11 per cent (RGB, 2009).

Bhutan’s National Environment Strategy, “The Middle Path,” highlights hydropower development, industrial growth and intensification of agriculture as the three major avenues for sustainable development in Bhutan (RGB, 1998). Tourism is also an important economic sector. All of these sectors are highly climate sensitive and vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Hydropower critically depends on predictable and stable patterns of precipitation which will be perturbed due to climate change. Subsistence farmers will be directly affected by temperature changes and monsoon patterns that are less predictable as a result of climate change. Bhutan’s roads and other important infrastructure will suffer more damage from landslides and flashfloods. The rapid melting of glaciers, besides affecting the base flow of Bhutan’s rivers, will dramatically increase the risk of GLOFs. Bhutan’s extensive forest cover, rich biodiversity and clean water resources will also be affected by climate change, which will then negatively impact the tourism and service sectors.
Source: http://www.undp-alm.org/explore/bhutan

For more information please click the following link:

Major International AgreementsDateDirect Link
Convention on Biological Diversity25 August 1995https://www.cbd.int/doc/legal/cbd-en.pdf
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change25 August 1995http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/convkp/conveng.pdf
Convention for Combating DesertificationUnder processhttp://www.unccd.int/en/about-the-convention/Pages/About-the-Convention.aspx
UN Convention on the Law of the Seasigned in 1982http://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/unclos_e.pdf
World Heritage Convention (WHC)acceded to on 22nd October 2001http://whc.unesco.org/en/convention/
Basel Convention on Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposalacceded to on 26th August 2002http://www.basel.int/Portals/4/Basel%20Convention/docs/text/BaselConventionText-e.pdf
CITESacceded to on 15th August 2002http://www.cites.org/
Source: http://www.thegef.org/gef/sites/thegef.org/files/gef_prj_docs/GEFProjectDocuments/NCSA/Bhutan-National%20Capacity%20SelfAssessment%20(NCSA)%20for%20Global%20Environmental%20Management/Bhutan%20brief.doc.doc

Board Representative for Bhutan

Dasho Sherub Gyaltshen
Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Forest

Partnership Arrangements

The Royal Government of Bhutan is a founding member of ICIMOD, along with 7 other member states. The Royal Government of Bhutan contributes to core support to ICIMOD and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) is the designated focal agency. The incumbent Secretary of the MoAF formally represents in the ICIMOD Board of Governors. The Ministry has made arrangement of a focal person to coordinate ICIMOD activities in Bhutan. The formal letter of agreements for ICIMOD programs is routed and approved through the Gross National Happiness (GMH) Commission in close coordination with MoAF.

Working Modalities

ICIMOD will collaborate closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests on activities related to ecosystem services, natural resource management, food security and livelihood improvement; the Ministry of Economic Affairs in matters related to water, the cryosphere, and hydrometeorology; and the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs and Ministry of Economic Affairs in matters related to disaster risk reduction and early warning systems. ICIMOD will work with the National Land Commission, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, and Ministry of Economic Affairs in matters related geospatial solutions and the spatial database.

Focal Agencies

Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Royal Government of Bhutan

Focal Point

Karma Phuntso

ICIMOD Staffs

4

Typology of Partners

Table

Partnership Landscape

List of Partners

  • Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bhutan
  • Bhutan Media and Communications Institute, Bhutan
  • Center for Bhutan Studies, Bhutan
  • Center for Climate Change and Spatial Infrastructure Sherubtse College, Bhutan
  • Department of Disaster Management, Bhutan
  • Department of Energy, Bhutan
  • Department of Forests and Park Services, MAF, Bhutan
  • Department of Geology and Mines, Bhutan
  • Department of HydroMet Services, Bhutan
  • Gross National Happiness Commission, Bhutan
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Bhutan
  • Ministry of Economic Affairs, Bhutan
  • National Environment Commission, Bhutan
  • National Land Commission, Bhutan
  • National Statistical Bureau, Bhutan
  • Royal Society for Protection of Nature, Bhutan
  • Royal University of Bhutan, Bhutan
  • SAARC Forestry Centre, Bhutan
  • The Council for Renewable Natural Resources Research, Bhutan
  • Thimphu IT Park / Data Center, Bhutan
  • Ugyen Wangchuk Institute for Conservation and Environment, Bhutan