Three tree species – populus, thuja, and cupressus macrocarpa are being felled in the country due to the health and environment concerns.

In Thimphu, more than 3,500 trees of these species have been felled so far. It is estimated that about 600 more tress are there in the capital that will be felled.

The trees, considered exotic, are not native to Bhutan.

Thimphu’s chief forestry officer, Gyeltshen Dukpa, said that the species were introduced in the country in the past without adequate knowledge of them.

The species were planted on barren landscapes and near human settlements.

“We realised that brining a new species to a certain vegetation changes the whole vegetation. The animals and the nature of the landscape also change. There is a negative effect of the exotic species that doesn’t belong to the land,” Gyeltshen Dukpa said.

Threat to the native species that these trees pose is among the chief concerns today. The exotic species of trees also cause sneezing and other health issues. Young and ageing population are affected the most.

“The allergy is most common during spring. Many people are not aware of this,” said Gyeltshen Dukpa.

In early 2000, eucalyptus trees in the country were felled for similar reasons. Only a few are left in the country today.

Gyeltshen Dukpa said that notifications to cut these species were issued to other dzongkhags. “We have small number of such species in other dzongkhags. We plan to remove all the exotic species in the country.”

The trees felled from government land will be taken by Natural Resources Development Corporation Limited, which will be later auctioned.

Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority monitor import of non-native tree species.

Department of Forest and Park Services has plans to replace exotic species with native species.

Phurpa Lhamo