Tshering Palden

With an increasing number of constructions across the country, records from the forestry department show a rising demand for timber over the years exerting more pressure on the state forests.

In the 11th Plan, an average of 10.89 million cubic feet (Cft) of timber were supplied every year. Of that, 7.88 million Cft were from the state reserve forest, 2.29 from the forest management units, 0.17 from wildlife sanctuaries, 0.11 from community forests, 0.03 from private forests, and another 0.42 from registered private forests.

This includes the timber supplied by the Department of Forests, and Natural Resources Development Corporation Ltd (NRDCL).

Rural construction took away most of the timber with an average of 4.26 million Cft each year of the 11th Plan. Firewood was 2.35M Cft, 2.28M Cft for urban construction, 0.4 for dzongs, lhakhangs, and other religious purposes, 0.31 for fencing, 0.13 for flagpoles, and 1.14M Cft for other purposes.

While in some areas demand for firewood and flag- poles has reduced, demand for timber for the construction and repair of dzongs, lhakhangs, and other religious purposes remains high.

Records from the agri- culture ministry show that between 2014 and 2018, there were 260 constructions of temples, monasteries, monks’ residences, mandirs, and dzongs.

The forest department and the NRDCL supplied 1.349 million cft of timber worth Nu 409 million for the construction. Sources said these constructions require the best quality of timber.

Some of them including Wangdue, Drugyel, Lingzhi, and Pemagatshel dzongs are still under construction, and demands still put pressure on the forest resources.

The forest department issued permits for 8.625 million cft of timber last year alone. Of the total timber supplied, around 65,049.616 cft has been supplied for the construction or renovation of dzongs, lhakhangs, and other religious structures. This, however, doesn’t ac- count for the timber supplied for the said purpose through NRDCL. NRDCL, through FMU and other ad hoc areas, has supplied about 6152 m3 or 217,255.83 cft of timber for dzongs and lhakhangs.

In 2016, the department allotted 10.493 million cft of timber. This includes 6.369 million cft for rural purposes, while another 4.03 million cft of timber were supplied for commercial purpose excluding 93,336.66 cft was supplied for construction of dzongs, lhakhangs and other religious structures.

The 11th Plan saw the constructions of Wangdue Dzong and Drukgyel dzong.

The country has 71 percent forest cover or 2.7 hectares (Ha) out of the total geographical area of 3,839,400ha of the country. Wangdue has the highest forest cover 292,824ha with Tsirang having the least 48,857ha.

The protected area network in the country consists of national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, strict nature reserves, biological corridors, and the Royal Botanical Park, encompassing about 51.44 percent of the country’s area.

As of 2017, there were 20 forest management units (FMU) in 12 dzongkhags covering 193,821.77ha of forests, and 22 Local Forest Management Plan (LFMP) in nine dzongkhags in operation which catered to the commercial and rural needs.

There are 733 community forests in the country with 83,215ha as of December 31, 2017.