More than 6,400 tree saplings were planted on four hectares of land at Chang Debsi in Thimphu on June 2. The land had remained barren following a fire in the past.

The plantation was done under a Druk Holding and Investments (DHI) initiative – supporting green compensatory plantation (SGCP) programme, which began in 2017.

The programme includes afforestation in blank areas, reforestation in degraded/deforested areas and rehabilitation of fire burnt, and pest/disease-affected areas. The programme also includes plantation to protect the watershed areas and commercial tree plantation.

This year, facilitated by Natural Resources Development Corporation Limited (NRDCL), the Bank of Bhutan Limited (BoBL) and Druk Air Corporation Limited (DACL) were involved in the plantation.

NRDCL’s chief executive officer, Sonam Wangchuk, said that trees, which would provide timber such as blue pine and oak, are planted at the site. “These timbers are expensive in other countries and can be used to make furniture. But currently it is being used for firewood. Since we extract timber, we also need to make sure to replace it.”

About 200 staff from BoB, NRDCL, and DACL took part in the plantation on the day that is observed as social forestry day in the country.

Sonam Wangchuk said the trees would be monitored and maintained for five years to ensure successful growth. “NRDCL provided the tree saplings for free. The fund from these two companies will be used for maintenance, fencing, and labour,” he said.

Losing the saplings to cattle was raised as one challenge in ensuring successful growth.

“Cattle are a problem in most areas. We have to replant, which increases the cost. There are success stories as well, where the site turned beautiful and was handed over to the department of forests and park services (DoFPS),” Sonam Wangchuk said.

According to a press release from NRDCL, the company in partnership with other DHI companies has planted trees on about 22 hectares of land last year with an investment of Nu. 3.95 million (M). A total of 35,200 number of tree saplings was planted.

From 1989 to 2017, NRDCL has created 2,069.78 hectares of plantation across the country and 881.36 hectares of established plantation was handed over to DoFPS in 2015.

Apart from the compensatory plantation, NRDCL in 2018 will create 58.35 hetares of plantation with an investment of Nu 3.75M and further maintain an existing plantation of 448 hectares with investment totaling Nu 6M, the press release stated.

Phurpa Lhamo