Forests | WWF


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Forests cover 71% of the total geographical area of the country. Major forest types include
Subtropical, Fir, Warm Broadleaved, Blue Pine, Chir Pine, Cool Broadleaved, Evergreen Oak, Spruce, Hemlock and Juniper-Rhododendron Scrub. These forests have a wide range of altitudinal variation from subtropical forests at 100m in the southern foothills to highest coniferous forest stand at 4,750 m in the north followed by forest alpine meadows and snowcapped mountains. These landscapes contain a vast repository of ecosystems, species, and genetic diversity, and play a critical role in supporting socioeconomic development, biodiversity conservation, environmental health and climate resilience.

National Forest Inventory (NFI) (2015) estimates growing stock per hectare at 261 cubic meters and the total growing stock of country at 1,001 million cubic meters. Currently, there are 20 FMUs, of which, 18 are under operation and are being scientifically managed for commercial harvesting of timber. Community Forestry (CF) is a key component of Bhutan’s forest policy. Currently, there are 677 registered CFs involving 28,311 rural households, who actively participate in community forest management and meeting their local timber demand. Forest plantations are carried out both by the Department of Forests and Park Services and the other non-forest agencies but all plantation are coordinated and maintained by the department.

Semi-advanced technology is still commonly used in extracting and processing timber. There are 128 wood-based industries consisting of 105 sawmills and 23 Manufacturer units registered in a country. Timber export is banned in Bhutan. Besides timber, there are Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFP) Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) that are collected from forests and traded. At local level, collection and management of NTFP are either done in a group formed with the technical support from the Department of Forests and Park Services or on individual basis. A minimal royalty is collected for the extraction of these produce. Currently there are 130 NTFP management groups in 17 districts involving more than 4,500 household members for the sustainable management and marketing of the NTFP resources.

Deforestation and degradation are the two main threats confronting Bhutan’s diverse temperate and sub-tropical forests. While deforestation is relatively less, forest degradation is of serious concern. The main drivers of forest degradation include timber harvesting, fuel wood collection, forest fire and livestock grazing. The amount of timber extracted between 2008-2015 amounts to 1,127,059 cubic meters (annual average of 161,008 cubic metre) over the same period. Similarly, the amount of firewood extraction between 2009 and 2015 is 594,552 cubic meters (annual average of 84,936 cubic meters). These figures do not include unauthorized or illegal extraction. In 2016 alone, there were 72 forest fire incidences damaging 8,521.87 hectares of forests. The impact of livestock grazing on forest degradation is localized, and varies from place to place depending on the forest types and grazing intensities. However, grazing impacts are adverse on regeneration particularly following forest harvesting in FMUs. Another key challenge is the loss of forested land to developmental activities.

Our Goal: Forest landscapes in Bhutan valued for local economy, biological diversity, climate resilience and human well-being.