Overview of Forest Sector

Forest occupies a total of 71 % (2.7 million ha) of the total geographical area (3.8 million ha) of Bhutan [1][2] and even the constitution of Bhutan mandates to maintain at least 60% of forest cover in perpetuity[3]. For the conservation of biodiversity, approximately 51.44% of the area is set aside under a protected area network comprising national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and strict nature reserves which are well connected with biological corridors[4]. All the forest in Bhutan is declared as State Reserved Forest Land and the Department of Forests and Park Services under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests is the focal agency for forest conservation and protection in the country.

Diverse climatic conditions (subtropical, temperate, and alpine) combined with topographical variation (100-7500 meters above sea level)[5] has attributed to the country’s diverse forest types which include subtropical forests, warm broadleaved forests, Chir pine forests, cool broadleaved forests, evergreen oak forests, blue pine forests, spruce forests, hemlock forests, fir forests, juniper-rhododendron scrubs, and dry alpine scrubs. The Cool broadleaved forest (26%) forms the major portion of the forest of Bhutan followed by warm broadleaved forest (18%)[1].

All most all the forests in the country are scientifically managed under either one of the forest management regimes; Protected Area network, Forest Management Units, Community Forests, Local Forest Management Areas, and Private Forests. The National Forest Policy (2011) requires all forests to have forest management plans focused on the sustainable supply of forest products or ecosystem services. The management plans must also ensure that pest and disease, forest fire, and natural disaster management related to the particular resources are an integral part of the plan.

Apart from being a source of livelihood, a major watershed, and home to some of the rarest species of flora and fauna, Bhutan’s forest is the largest carbon sink in the country [1]. Acknowledging this, in 2009, at COP15, Bhutan made a voluntary commitment to maintaining Bhutan’s status as a net sink for greenhouse gases by ensuring that greenhouse gas emission levels do not exceed the sequestration capacity of its forests [6]. Through its 1st Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, Bhutan further pledged its commitment to remain carbon neutral.

The 2nd Nationally Determined Contribution of Bhutan highlights ambitious targets under the forest sector to strengthen the conservation of existing forests and increase the adaptive capacity to climate change impacts without compromising opportunities for future economic development and prosperity[7]. These targets are aligned with REDD+ Strategy and Action Plan of Bhutan to; 1) improve forest management and conservation, 2) maintain at least 50% of land area as protected areas, 3) enhance forest carbon stock through climate-smart restoration, 4) initiate and promote agroforestry and 5) conserve watershed and wetlands[8].

[1] National Forest Inventory, Stocking Nation’s Forest Resources, Volume I, 2015 Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Royal Government of Bhutan, Thimphu.
[2] FAO. 2020. Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020. Bhutan. FAO, Rome. 
[3] Royal Government of Bhutan 2008, The Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan.
[4] Department of Forests and Park Services 2019, Forestry Facts and Figures, 10-54.
[5] National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plan of Bhutan, 2014. National Biodiversity Centre, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Royal Government of Bhutan.
[6] Kingdom of Bhutan. Bhutan Intended Nationally Determined Contribution communicated on 30 September 2015.
[7] Kingdom of Bhutan. Bhutan Second Nationally Determined Contribution communicated on 5 June 2021.
[8] Watershed Management Division, Department of Forest and Park Services, RGoB, 2020 National REDD+ Strategy and Action Plan for Bhutan, 24-35.

Forest Policy Archive

DATETYPETITLEENGLISHNATIONAL LANGUAGE
2018-2023Plan12th Five Year Plan of Bhutan 2018-2023Link
2021Strategy/PlanBhutan's Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the UNFCCCLink
2020PolicyThe Climate Change Policy of the Kingdom of BhutanLink
2020StrategyNational REDD+ Strategy and Action PlanLink
2020StrategyNational Environment Strategy (The Middle Path)Link
2018RegulationThe Land Lease Rules and RegulationsLink
2017RegulationForest and Nature Conservation Rules and Regulations of BhutanLink
2017Forest and Nature Conservation Rules and Regulations of BhutanLink 
2016PolicyEconomic Development Policy of the Kingdom of BhutanLink
2014Strategy/PlanBhutan's National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP)Link 
2011PolicyNational Forest PolicyLink
2011LawThe Water Act of BhutanLink
2008ConstitutionConstitution of BhutanLink 
2007LawThe National Environment Protection ActLink
2007LawThe Land Act of Kingdom of BhutanLink
2003LawThe Biodiversity Act of BhutanLink
1995LawForest and Nature Conservation Act of BhutanLink
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