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Rangeland restoration as a nature-based solution: Co-developing guidelines for wildlife habitat and pasture management in Bhutan




Paro, Bhutan

Date & Time

11 March 2024 to 18 March 2024

Organisers: ICIMOD, Department of Forests and Park Services, Bhutan

About the event

The Department of Forests and Park Services, Bhutan, in collaboration with ICIMOD is organising a series of activities on rangeland restoration and pasture management. These activities will include participatory analysis to identify issues and potential solutions, as well as technical design and field demonstrations of innovative solutions.

The event is supported by the Himalayan Resilience Enabling Action Programme (HI-REAP) funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) under the Climate Action for a Resilient Asia (CARA) programme.


  • Co-identify and test (with country partners and herder communities, including women and vulnerable groups) rangeland restoration and pasture improvement interventions as a nature-based solution (NbS) in summer, transitional, and winter pastures in Bhutan and Nepal
  • Co-demonstrate potential restoration options, standardise practices and protocols, and develop field management guidelines to ensure recommended restoration practices comply with NbS criteria
  • Support gender and social inclusion (GESI) responsive mainstreaming and upscaling through capacity-building programmes for partners and herders


In Bhutan and Nepal, rangelands are an integral part of the Protected Area network, biological corridors, and community and state forests. These open meadows not only serve as grazing resources for pastoralism but are crucial habitats for wild ungulates, which are a critical prey base for sustaining globally significant and iconic species such as snow leopards and tigers. Well-maintained rangelands also serve as a carbon sink. Conserving, restoring and sustainably managing rangeland resources provides unique NbS to multiple societal challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, water shortage, and food security.

Over the last three to four decades, government restrictions on traditional pasture management practices, such as cutting and burning, have resulted in alpine pastures being gradually re-colonised by shrubs, greatly reducing the quality and availability of forage in summer pastures. Alpine meadows are also severely impacted by erosion, scree flows due to melting glaciers, permafrost thaw and intense spells of rain. The transitional pastures and winter grazing areas are either overused and highly eroded or dominated by invasive or unpalatable plants with very poor fodder production. Invasion by shrubs and land erosion also reduce the growth and availability of highly value medicinal plants and herbs. In some cases, the pastures are being invaded by pioneering woody species, and water sources critical for wildlife, livestock and herders are also drying up. This has led to:

  • Negative impact on biodiversity and ecosystem services (i.e., fodder for wildlife, medicinal plants, etc.) from rangelands
  • Unprofitability of pastoralism and outmigration of youth from mountain regions
  • Erosion and loss of traditional culture of pastoralism

Recognising these emerging challenges and accelerated rangeland degradation, the revised Forest and Nature Conservation Act of Bhutan (2023) encourages implementing NbS with rangeland restoration. Similarly, the Conservation and Management Plan of National Parks (e.g. Jigme Dorje National Park (JDNP), 2021-2031), as well as flagship species management plans (e.g. Snow leopard conservation action plan; Tiger conservation action plan), has prioritised the need for habitat management that has co-benefits for biodiversity, environment, and livelihoods of pastoral communities. Furthermore, the recent re-distribution of pastures (tsa-drog) to herders under a leasehold arrangement has clarified user rights related to rangelands, which is key for effective resource management. Developing a management plan has now been made mandatory under this leasehold system.

The proposed NbS actions fall under one of the components under HI-REAP as the nine-year programme focuses on piloting and scaling NbS for adaptation and resilience across the Hindu Kush Himalaya. This workshop marks the initial phase of this collaborative effort aimed at identifying and testing NbS to restore degraded rangelands. The primary goal is to pilot these solutions and subsequently scale them within the region and potentially beyond.



Date Programme
11–12 March 2024 Participatory gender and social inclusion responsive mapping of pasturelands

(Mapping the seasonal use of pastures and the extent of shrub encroachment and other issues)

13–14 March 2024 Identifying the issues in rangeland restoration and their possible solutions

(Getting insights into implications of rangeland conditions and stocktaking of past and ongoing restoration activities)

15–16 March 2024 Technical designing of innovative solutions for rangeland restoration

(Drafting outline of rangeland management framework/technical guidelines)

17–18 March 2024 Field demonstration of solutions

(Design on the ground implementation action plan and implement selected restoration activities)