Submits petition to dzongkhag asking to protect their environment

Resources: With increasing incidents of felling trees in their catchment area, members from about 40 households in Chungkar village in Zobel and Gonpawoong Khatoe village in Shumar had submitted a petition to the dzongkhag requesting to control felling of trees.

But the villagers who submitted the letter in December last year said they are still waiting for a response from gups after the dzongkhag administration directed them to investigate.

Villagers said felling trees has increased over the years and that they are concerned it would affect the water source and the forest.

Although people fell trees with permission from authorities, villagers said the activity should be controlled as it had been going on for decades.

Logging is happening at a place called Jephu.

A villager, Jinlap Yeshi said it was worrying to see lots of trees cut down daily or logs lying along the farm road. “Even the loud noise of the machines are disturbing,” he said.

Jinlap Yeshi said the villagers are worried that at current rate of logging activity, one day Jephu will become barren and water source will dry up. “Let’s save what ever is left.”

Another farmer Sonam Phuntsho said even after submitting the letter they still see people cutting down trees.  He said part of Jephu, which is under Chungkar, has been proposed as a community forest (CF) and are waiting for the certificate. “If trees are continuously cut down, no trees would be left in the CF,” he said.

The villager said with lot of development activities, more trees would be felled to extract timber. “The government is emphasizing on protecting the forest and this is our small step trying to save the forest.”

However, Shumar gup Lepo said he is not aware of the villager’s request to the dzongkhag. The Zobel gup Pema Dorji assured villagers that there were no illegal logging or that their water source or the proposed community forest would be affected.

He said trees were being felled from Gonpawoong side outside the CF and that no trees were cut down from  Chungkhar side illegally.  “We will however submit the letter to the forest range office and request them to issue permit for felling trees from other areas.”

Pemagatshel forest range officer Lhab Dorji said what is happening at Jephu was approved logging and that they cannot ban the activity without the Dzongkhag Tshogdu’s decision.  “The DT members can decide,” he said.

He said forest officials ensure that inspections of the forest are carried out before issuing the permit. “We have made sure that the activity will not affect water sources or community forest,” he said.

Lhab Dorji said villagers raised the issue as they had been taking care of the forest for decades. “But, as of now there is no damages done to the forest,” he said.

Yangchen C Rinzin,  Pemagatshel