February 7, 2017
Forest: Dagana, Pemagatshel and Zhemgang have the most forest cover with 83 percent of the dzongkhags under vegetation, according to the recently released national forest inventory (NFI) report.
Gasa has the least with 36 percent.
The first volume of the NFI presents the state of forest resources, focusing on the trees in the country.
Of the 71 percent of forest cover, cool broadleaved forest covers 26 percent, warm broadleaved forest 18 percent, fir nine percent, subtropical six percent, blue pine four percent, chir pine three percent, hemlock two percent, and evergreen oak forest, spruce forest, and Juniper-Rhododendron scrub each cover one percent.
Only trees above 10cm in diameter at breast height were recorded during the fieldwork.
With 82,773,731 standing trees, Trashigang has the most trees among the dzongkhags. Bumthang, Mongar, Wangdue, and Zhemgang are the other dzongkhags with more than 55 million trees.
There are about 3.8 million trees equal to or taller than 40 metres, the tallest lot, and 24 million trees more than 100cm in diameter.
The NFI also has information on biodiversity, forest pests and disease, forest disturbance, and soil carbon. The field and laboratory work for biomass and allometric equation development is ongoing and will be used to produce the second volume of the NFI.
The inventory ended in 2015, three and a half years after it began.
Of the country’s total area of 3,839,400ha, 71 percent is under forest cover with an estimated tree count of 816.5 million trees. This is about 0.02 percent of the total global tree count.
On an average, there are 213 trees on a hectare of land.
The report provides the baseline information required for strengthening science-based forest management that will enable the Constitutional requirement of 60 percent forest cover for all times, to be maintained.
The NFI, the fieldwork for which ended in December 2015, claimed the life of a forester while many narrowly escaped death walking over cliffs and glaciers, in extreme weather conditions.
A ranger from the Gedu range office lost his life after falling off a 200-metre cliff in Pantang, Zhemgang on December 26, 2015. The father of four was trying to clear a path while his friends tried to locate the area for mapping using satellite signals.
Foresters pushed themselves to the limits, taking painkiller tablets and sniffing garlic to avoid altitude sickness. Others braced snowstorms in the mountains, went without food, water and sleep for two days.
However, many foresters said the exercise gave them the opportunity to experience different cultures and lifestyles in the country.
Of the 60 foresters, only 49 remained to complete the survey as some dropped out for higher studies and others due to medical conditions.
The survey physically covered nearly 70 percent of the country. About 30 percent of the country remains inaccessible due to difficult terrain and permanent snow. Other scientific techniques were used to cover the area.
Forest officials said the NFI has established the baseline for any future forest conservation and other activities including payment for eco-system services. NFI is a comprehensive survey to assess the health and state of the country’s forests.
The survey, which started from Paro in July 2012, had to be carried out in phases due to shortage of funds. Independent teams revisited the surveyed areas to check the quality and report the variance.
Several development and conservation partners such as SNV, BTFEC, FAO, EU, ICIMOD, Forest Carbon Partnership Fund, USDA-Forest Service, Washington University and Yale University supported the inventory exercise.
The survey cost Nu 118.6 million.
Tshering Palden