Not many countries in the world knew the existence of such a land, hidden in the folds of Himalayas, until it was known as one of the biological hotspots of the world. A small patch of land with a mere area of 38,394 sq.km, situated between two giants of the world, China to the north and India bordering the rest, it is the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Menjong Drukyul, ‘Dragon kingdom of medicinal herbs’’ now known as Bhutan.
Since the prehistoric era, the native of Bhutan lived in close harmony with the natural environment believing that destruction of it would bring natural catastrophe, for they believed that unseen spirits dwell everywhere in the nature. Yet they derived values such as food, fodder, fuelwood, fibre and fertilizer from the forests besides timber and many other intangible benefits like peaceful environment with scenic beauty, a timely monsoon, etc. The mythical conservation of forest by our ancestors have bestowed the present generation with pride in front of the world when many nations are struggling to reinstate the long lost natural forest. The country still maintains 72.7% of the total area with forest and derives numerous services from the nature, the most important one being lighting the homes by hydroelectric powers. Water serves as one of the most important source of energy.
Bhutan is drained by many rivers, the four major being Amo chhu (Torsa), Wang chhu ( Raidak) Punatsang chhu ( Sonkosh), and Drangme chhu ( Manas), maintaining good watershed among the valleys. These rivers have a potential to generate more than 30,000mw of electricity and the continuity of the flow of rivers depends on the conservation of forest. Depletion of forest meant a rise in the temperature causing global warming, which leads to the melting of the pristine mountains, thus causing a threat to the perpetual flow of rivers.
|Damsite at Chhukha ( source: Bhutan 2008 )|
The first hydropower project in Bhutan was commissioned in 1960s when Bhutan forwarded her first step towards modern development by launching the First Five Year Plan in 1961. By then rest of the world have already converted their natural forest into major Industries, or were in the process of conversion. There after Bhutan realized the importance of forest in maintaining the perennial flow of rivers, which have a great potential to generate huge revenue in the most eco-friendly manner. Today the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan obligates 60% of the country’s area to be maintained under forest cover at all times. The development of more than 20 hydroelectric schemes has made it possible to electrify more than 40 towns and 1,064 villages (2004) within a short period. Bhutan continues to harness the immense hydropower potential that Bhutan is endowed with. Today, the sector contributes more than 40% of the domestic revenue. Just for an instance, the National Revenue Report of 2005-2006 reveals that Chukha Hydropower contributed Nu. 2,092.682 million which is 30.01% to the total revenue of Bhutan. Besides there are many small hydropower plants in Bhutan catering to remote villages that are not linked to the main distributors. The small hydro projects have significant roles to play in our economy. Thus, we Bhutanese are lucky to have received such a great service from nature.
Therefore, to celebrate the World Environment Day 2011 on 5th June, with the theme “Forests: Nature At Your Service” I hereby present this insight of Green Development happening in Bhutan to the other world. There cannot be a way better than this for achieving Clean Development Mechanism where we use the natural resources in a sustainable basis, without compromising the needs of future generation, so plant a tree to celebrate the day.
Learn more on World Environment Day
Reference: Hydro Electricity Power