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Natural capital accounting for Jigme Dorji National Park, Bhutan




Thimphu and Jigme Dorje National Park, Bhutan

Date & Time

18 March 2024 to 29 March 2024

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

About the event

We are collaborating with the Department of Forest and Park Services, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Royal Government of Bhutan to set the stage for natural capital accounting (NCA) work, especially to firm the economic basis for management of protected areas and substantiate the need to scale Nature-based Solutions (NbS) in the region. The work will focus on Jigme Dorji National Park (JDNP), the second largest and the second oldest protected area in Bhutan.

A series of consultative and debriefing events will engage relevant government line agencies, non-governmental institutions, academia, and local communities especially those in and around the National Park- to co define the methodological frame for NCA and finalise engagement plan for NCA for JDNP.

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.


The broader aim is to integrate NCA consideration into the protected area management plan, ensuring that significance of Protected Area (PA) is recognised and appropriate resources are allocated for their sustenance and management. The specific objectives are to:

  • Co-develop methodological guideline for Natural Capital Accounting
  • Conduct Natural Capital Accounting for JDNP and provide management recommendations based on NCA result

The methodological framework can guide similar NCA work in other PAs. Specifically, the work will also complement Bhutan for Life’s outcome on healthy ecosystems and Milestone 13: By Year 7, National Five Year Plans and all PA management plans incorporate natural capital valuation, key ecosystem services provided by Protected Areas and Biological Corridors, and salient climate change risks and mitigation/adaptation strategies.


NCA is a process that involves systematically quantifying and valuing the stocks and flows of natural resources and ecosystem services in a given area. The European Commission defines NCA as a tool to measure the changes in the stock and condition of natural capital (ecosystems) at various scales and to integrate the flow and value of ecosystem services into accounting and reporting systems in a standard way. It provides a comprehensive framework to assess and quantify diverse benefits and value of a place, and offers decision makers crucial insights into economic, social and environmental contributions, helping in sustainable management decisions and in making the case for investment.

About JDNP

Spanning over 4374 sq km, JDNP safeguards critical rangelands and alpine meadows, dense forests, and several globally endangered and iconic species such as tiger, snow leopard, musk deer, and white-bellied heron, as well as the largest population of the endemic Bhutan takin. It serves as a watershed for Bhutan’s four major rivers – Pachu, Wangchu, Phochu and Mochu. As per the management plan, close to 5100 people live inside the park. The park hosts significant religious sites, and therapeutic hot springs iconic species such as snow leopard, and contributes to Bhutan rich natural and cultural legacy.

Societal challenge context

Herders and pastoralists are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change (for example, soil erosion, encroachment by woody species, and invasive species) and consequent changes in pasture conditions that affects the availability of fodder and water resources for home and livestock. Government policies that undermine traditional transhumance practices, unsustainable land use change and resource extractions (for example, overharvesting of medicinal plants) add to the pressure reducing the quality of pasturelands. The economic viability of rangelands and livestock products and market uncertainty affects livelihoods sustainability. Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) poses a threat to livestock and hinder biodiversity conservation efforts. Traditional herding practices are also declining with changing aspirations of the younger generation and of pastoralists.

Solution context

Addressing such challenges requires a holistic and integrated approach – climate resilient livestock management, sustainable community based natural resources management incorporating indigenous knowledge and practices, livestock diversification, value chain development, enhancing access to essential social services and infrastructure development, and aligning government programme to the herders need for sustainable development.

NbS provide a more holistic approach to these challenges by enhancing the potential of natural ecosystems to provides multiple services, benefits and opportunities such as quality fodder, sustained rangeland productivity, preservation of rich biodiversity, critical ecosystems, medicinal plants, rangeland flora and fauna, sustained water regulation, and climate regulation services. Importantly, NbS actively promotes community engagement and local ownership and stewardships. NbS widens the portfolio of economic opportunities with nature-based enterprises and carbon credits and Payment for Ecosystem Services schemes, allowing public-people-private sector partnerships.

The revised Forest and Nature Conservation Act of Bhutan (2023) encourages implementing NbS for effective ecosystem management, which also implies effective management of a mosaic of ecosystems within protected areas and biological corridors. Capitalising on the potential of NbS and realising their longer-term effectiveness when linked to valuation of natural capital, the stock, the ecosystem services and their flow – firms the economic argument for increased investment for effective management of PAs. In 2023, we engaged with the Department of Forests and Park Services (DoFPS) and Bhutan For Life (BFL) to strengthen the capability of government agencies to conduct economic valuation. We will now engage with them and others to advance NCA work based on recommendations from a multistakeholder walkshop to JDNP led by DOF&PS in 2023.


Date Programme
19–21 March 2024 Field trip to Barshong to understand local value perception for JDNP
22–23 March 2024 Unpacking value priorities for Natural Capital Accounting with Local government and stakeholders, Paro, Bhutan
25–26 March 2024 National consultation on Natural Capital Accounting, Haa, Bhutan
28 March 2024 NCA method finalisation for JDNP