Friday, 6 May 2011

Nature's Forest services- Perennial Flow of Rivers and Hydro Power

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, 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


  1. Great piece. I thoroughly enjoyed walking through it. Particularly because the subject is closer to my heart.

  2. Sangay sir, I very much thankful to you for going through this post of mine, and the depth of info about the subject matter in Blogyul post is of immense help for me la. Looking forward to learn more from you since i am also a forestry student.
    Once again thanks for visiting by blog, sir.

  3. I want to join Sangay in saying this is something more of us should be aware of and I am glad our younger minds like you, take interest in it. Additionally let me wish you luck.

    Something that you may find relevant to know about a new piece of legislation is the 'Water Bill' ( that is currently in Parliament. It may just be informative to know.

    Once again, all the best!

  4. Dear Leoparsica,
    It was great pleasure to know that we share the same field and interest. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would meet another forester blogging. I was indeed very happy to know that there is another forester blogging.
    I am hoping to working together with you sometime in our career as we are in the same organization.
    I understand you are still pursuing your studies in India, is it true? If that is the case, let me know, if i can be of any help to you in reaching any forestry related data during your dissertation.
    I love to help people who are mad of achieving /learning something is life. I work in research Institution in Bhutan (Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment).
    Looks like we are trying to look professional with our forget it.
    I appreciated your post and is looking forward to reading anything you write.

  5. Dasho Sangay Khandu is right. It is time for the younger minds to step forward and compel people to think and analyze everything they read and hear....not just follow as they are used to. I think visiting and looking at how the water bill looks would be interesting. You can also try couple of international and regional website dealing on environment I have couple of links in my blog, which i often visit.
    Good luck with your work.

  6. I would like to thank Dasho Sangay Khandu for visiting my blog and going through it. indeed forestry is subject of my choice after class twelve and i am very much attached to that field. Thank you for the good wishes, Dasho.

    @ Sagay sir, you are right la. i am doing my bachelors degree in a collge in India, and currently in my third year. i will be completing the course next year so, i am hopeful that aspiring guy like me can learn a lot from seasoned person like you la. in any case if i need help regarding the subject, i will be knocking your door la.
    Thank you.