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Carbon sequestration capacity increases to 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide

Bhutan’s forest cover saw a slight decrease from 71 per cent in 2015 to 69.7 last year. This is according to the State of Forest Report 2023 that was launched today coinciding with World Ranger Day. Despite the decrease in the forest cover, the carbon sequestration capacity or storage of carbon has increased to 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from 9.6 million tonnes estimated in 2015.

The decline in the forest cover is due to developmental activities in the State Reserved Forest and most of the private forest being cleared for cultivation and development.

Bhutan’s forest stores 523 million tonnes of carbon while 85 million tonnes is stored in non-forest land. The increase in the carbon sequestration capacity is attributed to increase in biomass growth as a result of improved forest management.

The National Forest Inventory Report 2023 is aimed to improve forest management and growth and planning and policy formulations for the 13th Five-Year Plan as well.

“The National Forest Report is important especially at a time like now when the 13th Five Year Plan and long-term plan of the ministry and the government, one of the main targets is to increase the GDP to USD 10 billion by 2034,” said Kinley Dem, Officiating Chief Forestry Officer of Forest Monitoring and Information Division.

Over 200 officials were involved in the conduct of the National Forest Inventory from 2021-2022 and data analysis was done last year.

“Given the mountainous terrain and difficult landscape, it is really difficult for the foresters to reach the plot. Second is the pandemic. The fieldwork was done during 2021 and 2022 when we were in the midst of the pandemic. So, it was challenging for the mobility of the crew. Otherwise, the data collection was very good,” added Kinley Dem.

Coinciding with World Ranger Day today, several publications, such as the State of Forest Report, State of Forest Carbon, and Forest Cover Mapping Report among others were launched as part of the celebrations.

“Bhutan for Life Programme would like to take this opportunity to mention that we will remain committed to enhancing the conditions of rangers in the fields. And in the future we will continue ensuring the safety of our rangers, nurturing professionalism and also providing infrastructure and technology,” said Kunzang Choden (Ph.D.), Programme Manager of Bhutan for Life Fund Secretariat.

There are over 1200 rangers in the country today.

Meanwhile, the National Forest Inventory recorded a total of 710 species of trees. 67.99 per cent of the forest in the country is broadleaved while coniferous forest accounts for just 32.01 per cent.

The conifer species are preferred over the broadleaved trees by the people as timber. The report recommends to review measures to manage conifer trees and promote utilisation of broadleaved trees.

Kinzang Lhadon

Edited by Kipchu