Project: Evaluation has found that Gramri Watershed Management that seeks to address environmental degradation and landslides in the catchment area of Gamri river need multi-sectorial intervention.

It has been found that land degradation and water source protection at Gamri watershed across eight gewogs – Samkhar, Bartsham, Bidung, Shongphu, Radhi, Phongmey, Merak and Sakteng – is critical.

Identification of land degradation types and its causes, assessment of sites to carry out land management practices, adequate plantation, and water source protection, among others, were carried out in 2014.

According to the preliminary report, the landslides occurred due largely to unstable geological conditions, construction of farm roads construction, overgrazing and deforestation, which necessitates mitigation measures like creation of buffer zones, construction of check dams and plantation of trees and bamboos.

The report says that social problems and environmental screening needs to be addressed by the funding agencies and the individual communities and highlights the importance of timely monitoring to ensure better mitigation strategies in the future.

Dr DB Gurung, one of the evaluators, said the team is in the process of analyzing the data, which is expected to be completed by April.

“Gamri watershed issue is a second degree human-induced problem, compounded by climate change, which requires multi-disciplinary correction measures to improve the overall resilience of the watershed,” he said.

He added that sectors like agriculture, livestock, dzongkhag administration, and park range offices should work together to achieve desirable results.

“Preliminary studies have identified symptoms of certain issues…We are trying to find out the causes behind these issues,” said Dr DB Gurung.

It has been found that people still have misconceptions about water-holding capacity of forests. They believe planting trees lead to water shortage because they suck up water.

Finding recommends people of the catchment area to harvest rainwater during monsoon and manage runoffs.

Dr DB Gurung added that given the limited budget, sustainability of the project could become an issue in the future.

Tshering Wangdi, Trashigang