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Global Environment Facility
Request for a PDF Block B Grant
for the proposed
Multi-sectoral Mechanisms and Incentives for Land Management in Bhutan
Country and eligibility:
Kingdom of Bhutan; ratified the Convention on
Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1995, the UN
Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC) in 1995,
and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification
(UNCCD) in 2003.
Multi-sectoral Mechanisms and Incentives for Land
Management in Bhutan
GEF Focal Area:
Land degradation and Multi-focal (Biodiversity and
Climate Change)
Operational Program:
Sustainable Land Management—OP 15
Project Cost and Financing:
US$ 16.50 million (subject to confirmation during
project preparation)
Bhutan Trust Fund
Other donor contributions
Project beneficiaries
Total Project Cost
Project Duration, Estimated Start Date: 6 years, from June 2005
Requesting Agency:
World Bank
Executing Agency:
To be determined by Royal Government of Bhutan
PDF Block B Request:
US$ 300,000
PDF Co-financing:
RGOB: US$ 50,000
IDA: US$100,000 in parallel co-financing
Other: Global Mechanism (to be confirmed)
Block A Grant Awarded?
1. Background and Context
The kingdom of Bhutan (38,394 km2 with an estimated population of 800,000 in 2002)
represents a key environmental asset in the ecologically-sensitive Eastern Himalayan
ecological region. Bhutan’s elevation varies from 150 meters to peaks of 7,500 meters
within a north-south distance of just 150 km, and the resulting climatic and geographic
diversity has yielded an “outstanding range of biodiversity and ecosystems” (WWF). This
biological significance includes over 3,200 plant species per 10,000 km2 (Royal
Government of Bhutan, Planning Commission, 2002) and important populations of
endangered mammals, birds and plants (BIMS). With threats to the Himalayan
ecosystems becoming critical, the global value of Bhutan’s relatively intact landscapes
within this larger ecological system increases.
Bhutan’s record of good governance and long-standing commitment to environmental
sustainability are also widely recognized. Since 1974, the country’s forest policy has
operated under a royal mandate that at least 60% of Bhutanese territory must remain
forested in perpetuity, commercial logging was nationalized in 1978 in response to
concerns about over-exploitation and the timber industry remains tightly regulated.
Bhutan established the world’s first environmental trust fund in 1991, capitalized with a
US$ 1 million WWF grant and supplemented by an endowment of $10 million from the
GEF Pilot Phase in 1992 (Namgyel, 2001; GEF, 1998). The Bhutan Trust Fund (BTF)
for Environmental Conservation has become an important global model for sustainable
conservation financing; its assets reached $36 million before the global financial market
downturn beginning in 2001 (BTF, 2002). One-quarter of the country’s area has been set
aside for protected areas (though not all sites have yet come under management plans)
and a recent “Gift to the Earth” has offered another 9% for wildlife corridors to prevent
habitat fragmentation.
Notwithstanding its focus on environmental sustainability, Bhutan is facing “emerging
ecological pressures from rapid urbanization and development,” which pose an
increasingly severe threat to the natural environment and which is not adequately
addressed by present approaches and institutions (Kinzang Dorji, 2002). Population
density per sq. km of arable land has reached 520, nearly equal to the level found in
South Asia as a whole, more than one-third higher than Sub-Saharan Africa, and double
the level of Latin America and the Caribbean (World Bank, 2002; see table below).
Table1. Population per km2 of arable land
South Asia
Sub-Saharan Africa
Latin America & Caribbean 252
Source: World Bank, 2002.
Bhutan’s urban growth rate of 6.7% has had to be accommodated on forested slopes,
scarce agricultural land, and wetlands. With arable land being less than 8% of its land
area, agriculture is faced with limited productive land to help feed a growing population.
In the south-western foothills, for instance, local population densities “are approaching an
upper limit” and sustainable livelihood is a concern, given “present production methods
which are unlikely to change in the near future” (BIMS, Bhutan Country Report).
Development needs pose difficult challenges for Bhutan in terms of the trade-offs that
RGOB must balance in order to sustain its long-standing environmental commitments
while also meeting the human needs for livelihood and development. Urban housing is
expanding onto prime agricultural land while access roads vie for space in the narrow
valleys and adjacent slopes where most settlements are situated. In forested areas,
herders have traditional rights of passage, while roads and transmission lines cut swaths
to reach townships and remote communities as part of RGOB’s pro-poor policy which
gives high priority to expanding access and services for the population in remote areas.
Erosion is increasingly evident as farming and horticulture, as well as urban and
industrial needs exhaust flat land areas and shift onto steeper slopes. This is exacerbated
by deforestation on steep slopes, geologically unstable soils and intense monsoon rains.
Land degradation is showing measurable impacts, with 10% of agricultural land now
affected by water erosion (UNEP, 2001), urban settlements like Pemagatshel are slipping
down the unstable slopes on which they were sited, rural households in Trashigang
Dzongkhag have had to be relocated to safer areas following landslides and ravine
formation (see a fuller discussion in the Appendix), local and seasonal water shortages
are becoming more frequent and there is evidence of increasing sediment loads in
Bhutan’s extensive river system (National Planning Commission, 2002). The latter is a
threat to the rapidly-growing hydropower industry, which needs reliable water supply to
sustain much-needed revenue that currently underwrites some 40% of Bhutan’s
development budget.
Existing agencies (and donor instruments) tend to be channeled along traditional sectoral
lines—agriculture, forestry and water resources are treated separately from other land
uses such as infrastructure development—and these are proving to be ineffective in
addressing the nexus of inter-related land use pressures threatening fragile upland
ecosystems. While this tendency is present in many other countries, in Bhutan the
consequences of inappropriate land-use can be unusually rapid and severe, threatening
ecosystem stability through the operation of relatively simple triggering events (one
recent study noted a massive landslide which was apparently triggered by a single leaking
village standpipe; see Norbu et al. 2003; another report mentions gullies caused by
construction of local soccer fields—see MOA/CBNRM 2002). Little is presently known
about the specific ecological functions and services being degraded by these trends,
though it is known that the loss of vegetative cover has both biodiversity and carbon
emission implications; moreover, the disturbance of geologically unstable slopes often
results in disproportionately extensive and cascading impacts.
These impacts are primarily felt by rural households, whose homes and livelihoods are
frequently disrupted by landslides, and who face declining crop yields in areas affected
by loss of soil nutrients and organic matter, damage to irrigation systems, waterlogging of
soils, gully formation, and riverbank erosion. Basin irrigated rice (“chhushing”) and
short-fallow cropping systems are especially prone to depletion of soil nutrients and
reduced soil biodiversity; waterlogging of soils is common in areas crossed by logging
roads; wind erosion reduces crop yields and vegetation cover in valleys such as Wangdi;
and cultivated lands are vulnerable to rill erosion during heavy pre-monsoon rains. In
southern Bhutan, landslips and landslides are common, and can be triggered by even
small seismic tremors, while the clay-rich soils of eastern Bhutan and areas such as
Punakha and Lobeysa are highly vulnerable to gully and sheet erosion. Finally, many of
the country’s most productive agricultural areas are concentrated along valley bottoms,
where they are vulnerable to riverbank erosion, flooding, and deposition of silt and debris
carried by flooding, see table in Appendix 2 (Norbu et al, 2002). These problems are
especially serious in remote and isolated communities where food security is uncertain
and where subsistance livelihoods provide very little margin for coping with natural
disasters or crop failures. One-third of Bhutanese villages (“geogs”) are not connected to
feeder roads, and the same proportion face food insecurity, according to the 2000 Poverty
Assessment and Analysis Report.
The current sector-oriented institutional framework, which in other respects has made
significant achievements in Bhutan, is not able to provide effective cross-sectoral
accountability and incentive mechanisms which can mitigate these landscape degradation
pressures. Bhutan and its development partners have invested substantial resources in
sector-based projects in forest management during the late 1980s and 1990s, and in recent
years have also launched several new watershed management initiatives (such as the 9
million Euro Wang Watershed Management Project in central Bhutan, financed from
2000-2004 by the EC). New institutional mechanisms and incentives are needed which
can more effectively function across the various sectors with impacts on land-use and
land cover, and help to better operationalize the country’s existing policies on sustainable
2. Project Summary
2.1. Objectives
The project will promote innovative technical and institutional mechanisms to enhance
sustainable land management practices with local, regional and global environmental
benefits. By so doing, the project will promote and enhance synergies between the
Convention to Combat Desertification, the Framework Convention on Climate Change,
and the Convention on Conservation of Biological Diversity. The project will test and
demonstrate technical innovations which reduce land degradation and related
downstream impacts such as water erosion, focus land-use planning on long-term
maintenance of ecosystem functions and services, and develop cross-sectoral mechanisms
for landscape monitoring and management in collaboration with local resource users and
2.2. Project Components, Activities and Outputs
Component 1: An improved policy and planning framework for sustainable land
management (estimated cost: $0.50 million)
In recent years, RGOB has been moving toward a policy framework which requires that
environmental management costs be taken into account in planning for expansion of
infrastructure and other development investments. However, planning is still sectorallybased and projects are still costed using conventional valuation techniques. While the
benefits of development projects are well described, the costs and risks are less well
documented. Thus, for example, hydro-power plants which rely on and benefit from wellmanaged ecosystems upstream are not required to factor in (or help defray) the costs
borne by local inhabitants who use, manage and protect the resources upstream of the
hydro-power plants. Nor are proposals for works such as construction of roads, power
lines and urban centers (which have significantly increased land degradation) required to
fully take into account the risks and costs of environmental damage that they potentially
incur, and who such damage affect. Documenting the impact of development on local
livelihoods and sustainability (establishing measurable indicators, baseline, targets and
benchmarks) will be essential to help inform and influence government planning
processes as well as policies for rebalancing and redressal (through support for mitigating
or remedial measures).
An improved policy and planning framework would be one within which RGOB line
agencies, local governments and residents in targeted areas can work together to jointly
assess and decide on planned developments in those localities. They would take into
account overall costs and benefits, environmental risks and expected impacts and tradeoffs, with the aim of ensuring that the aggregate outcomes of the proposed land-use
developments result in positive outcomes for local residents and other affected parties
and long-term sustainable development outcomes for the ecosystem. The project is
expected to help RGOB develop alternative accounting mechanisms to quantify and
identify trade-offs among proposed investments and alternative development scenarios,
and guide planning and decision-making. Given the policy to enlist broad-based
stakeholder participation at the Dzongkhag (district) and Geog (village) levels, it is
expected that the project will support the reappraisal and potential realignment of public
sector roles in planning and implementation, including the creation of opportunities for
public-private and other local partnerships appropriate to the Bhutanese context.
Component 2: Integrated landscape management pilots (estimated cost: $10.0 million)
This component will pilot and demonstrate integrated landscape management approaches
in selected sites, to help government and other stakeholders address issues of competing
demands on the land resource, assess its carrying capacity and articulate a plan for its
rational allocation and management. It will also test the application of alternative
accounting mechanisms to help pinpoint where costs of development works are incurred
and where support might be needed to defray costs and invest in mitigating measures.
Local inhabitants will be enlisted and their efforts coordinated as inputs into the
environmental protection of critical watersheds, and for implementing sustainable land
management practices and options. These efforts and their effects will be documented in
terms of how effectively they help to counteract issues such as deforestation, land
degradation, soil erosion, and sedimentation of Bhutanese rivers. The lessons learnt will
inform and actively influence national and local level planning and implementation of
development programs.
Three case studies described in the Appendix to this Project Concept Document illustrate
the range of technical issues and project interventions that this component could address.
These issues relate to the need to balance the use of land and forest resources for human
settlement and activity on a geologically unstable and fragile landscape, and the often
competing demands of agriculture (increasingly practiced on steeper slopes, shifting
cultivation, mono-cropping of cash crops); animal husbandry (unmanaged grazing and
seasonal migration); forest usage (extraction practices, high levels of consumption of
fuel-wood and timber for construction); and competing needs for land (for forest
protection, biodiversity conservation, urban settlements, infrastructure and industrial
One of these case study documents how unsustainable land use on geologically unstable
sites resulted in gully formation and landslides which required that two-thirds of the
households be relocated to safer areas. Another case study describes the difficulty of
maintaining pristine forest cover in areas where the forestry mandate has to contend with
other forest users who have as much right of use and access (e.g. suppliers of fuel-wood
and construction timber, livestock herders, collectors of non-timber forest products, etc).
Where (sectoral) mandates and objectives are in conflict, the socio-economic costs and
benefits of each competing use and suggested solutions needs to be properly assessed.
The multiple demands on the same finite and fragile natural resource base has to be
recognized and sustainable options for optimizing land-use allocation need to be
arrived at. Left unmanaged, landscape and watershed deterioration will accelerate, with
serious long-term implications for conservation and biodiversity, cost to human
livelihood and returns on investments, as well as downstream effects and other
Component 3: Institution-strengthening and capacity-building (estimated cost: $6.0
This component will support decentralized environmental management and strengthen
the technical capacity of Bhutanese institutions to identify and address landscape
degradation trends and improve cross-sectoral mechanisms for ecosystem management,
including financing, incentive systems and regulatory arrangements. The component will
play a key role in supporting RGOB’s decentralization agenda by helping to clarify
technical and institutional needs, accountability systems, training requirements and other
mechanisms to ensure the early and full participation of local governments and other
stakeholders at the local level in planning and implementation.
3. Project Outputs and Rationale
3.1. Project Outputs
The project outputs, to be refined during project preparation, would include:
Output 1. Allocation of project resources to institutions and communities participating
in eligible pilot land and watershed policy, planning and management activities under the
Output 2. Harmonization of planning procedures and an active interface among line
agencies (responsible for agriculture, forestry, local governments, urban settlements,
power, roads and other infrastructure, etc.) to improve cross-sectoral review of proposed
investments and selection of environmentally-friendly alternatives.
Output 3. Inclusion of local governments and other stakeholders (private sector, local
residents) in decentralized natural resource planning and management, including their
access to information on proposed projects and full participation in the environmental
review process.
Output 4. Setting up of an environmental information and monitoring system (which
specifies measurable indicators, risks, baseline information, intermediate targets and a
timeframe for implementation and experimentation), monitoring and dissemination of
relevant information in a timely manner to all stakeholders as part of an informationeducation-communications program.
Output 5. Identification of hazard-prone and environmentally-risky areas and
alternative sites that are more suitable for proposed development investments, as well as
identification and management of risks of planned and unplanned development.
Output 6. Assessment, identification and promotion of sustainable land management
options and technologies through local practice, adaptation, experimentation and
3.2. Project Rationale
The environmental agenda in Bhutan focuses on forest and biodiversity conservation,
initially through the development of an extensive protected area system, with excellent
representation of habitat types and a long-term mechanism for financing biodiversity
initiatives through the Bhutan Trust Fund (BTF) and other resources. To implement the
country’s commitment to maintaining the mandated forest cover, much effort was also
invested in strengthening the policy framework and technical capacity for management of
forest areas. Commercial logging operations are strictly limited to sites with approved
management plans and harvesting is done using cable cranes to minimize soil compaction
and damage to natural regeneration. These measures provide important local and external
environmental benefits and add significant costs to Bhutanese forestry operations which
are neither compensated for domestically nor under present international environmental
During the preparation of the 9th Five Year Plan (2002-2007), however, the Royal
Government of Bhutan (RGOB) recognized that more systematic attention needs to be
given to the cumulative ecological effects of urbanization, industrial investment and
infrastructure development in both urban and rural areas. While the economic growth
rates of 7-8% p.a. over two decades have depended largely on infrastructure
development, urban and industrial growth, these same activities either compete for scarce
flat and stable land needed for agriculture, or spread into the forested slopes, wetlands
and areas of importance for biodiversity that the forestry sector is charged with
maintaining. It is increasingly evident that sectoral mandates no longer have the luxury
of being practised in isolation and need to be reevaluated in the light of the cumulative
effects of multi-sectoral initiatives taking place on the same parcel of land.
RGOB’s ambitious decentralization agenda adds another dimension to environmental
policy and planning processes in Bhutan. Legislation passed in 2002 vests political and
financial authority in dzongkhag and geog administration. Geogs now have the authority
to implement regulations and other measures in their localities which relate to the safe
disposal of waste, the control and prevention of air, soil and water pollution, the
protection and harvesting of edible forest products and the depredation of crops by
livestock and wildlife (under the Forest and Nature Conservation Act, 1995). As part of
the 9th Plan process, each geog has drafted an initial micro-level environmental plan of
action for its locality. These plans provide a significant opportunity for influencing the
direction and shape of important local level initiatives which have a strong political
mandate and which are able to mobilize local resources and citizen participation. The
process having just started, these plans can significantly benefit from timely technical
assistance and guidance in their formulation before they become fully operational.
RGOB seeks such assistance through the proposed project which aims to address land
and watershed degradation issues through multi-sectoral planning and implementation
with strong local participation.
3.3. Strategic Choices and Implementation Modalities
During the PDF phase, project implementation modalities will need to be carefully
assessed, as there are several options available. One central element concerns the likely
role of the BTF, a success story of the GEF pilot phase with strong support from
international conservation groups. The RGOB sees such endowments as a highly positive
development, as they provide a sustainable mechanism for financing a variety of
development initiatives, and shift selected responsibilities away from reliance upon the
civil service. Following the example of the BTF, other trust funds have been established
in areas such as cultural preservation, and health care financing, and are becoming a
significant new presence in the institutional landscape of a country which still has few
NGOs and a nascent civil society.
To the extent that the proposed GEF operation is implemented through small or mediumscale grants for testing and demonstrating improved land and watershed management,
especially where these have direct benefits for biodiversity and ecosystem conservation,
the BTF could be an appropriate partner for such activity. A significant proportion of
Bhutan’s contribution to the project could be represented by BTF co-financing for
eligible biodiversity activities, through the substantial endowment which it manages for
this purpose (whose assets stood at some $28 million as of the end of 2002). The royal
charter of the BTF makes provision for financing “projects integrating conservation and
development,” “diverse ecosystems,” and “biodiversity and environment related
activities,” thus most of the activities likely to be supported by the proposed GEF
operation would probably fall within the existing mandate and would not require formal
On the other hand, the environmental challenges facing Bhutan require broad-based
multi-sectoral interventions. At issue is the demarcation of project responsibilities vis-àvis line ministries and other agencies, especially those not historically associated with
environmental projects although their operations have significant impacts on land-use
change in Bhutan (power, roads, telecommunications). It is not clear how the BTF could
play a coordinating or administrative role with respect to line ministries and agencies
whose activities are directly related to the watershed and land management issues to be
addressed by the GEF project. Within Bhutan, the BTF operates essentially as a donor
agency, and has no mandate over line agencies of the government.
The National Environment Commission has relevant administrative authority and a crosscutting mandate; however, NEC policy calls for a restricted role for itself in direct project
implementation and management, instead focusing on refining the policy and legal
framework, preparing key sectoral master plans and environmental standards, and
developing partnerships with civil society and the private sector to take greater
responsibility for strengthening environmental management. The other agency with a
clear cross-cutting role and overview function is the Planning Commission, which has
recently been moved into the Ministry of Finance.
The Ministry of Agriculture is likely to take a central role in the implementation of the
GEF project, as its mandate already covers several of the domains to be addressed
(forestry, agriculture and livestock, nature conservation). MOA is also experienced as a
project partner of both the GEF and the World Bank. MOA has also been playing an
intellectual leadership role in initiating the policy dialogue within the RGOB on issues
such as the concept of “plowback” of power sector revenues to ensure sustainable
watershed management.
Implementation at the local level will be coordinated through the dzongkhag and geog
administrative units, whose technical and administrative capacities will need to be
strengthened. Project preparation will focus on identification of pilot locations
based on the receptivity of these local institutions and stakeholders, as well as technical
eligibility criteria: land and watershed pressures, prospects for implementing technical
options for improved management, and prospects for sustainability and replication.
4. Country Ownership
4.1. Country Eligibility
Bhutan ratified the Convention to Combat Desertification in 2003 and the Conventions
on Biological Diversity and Climate Change in 1995. The proposed project is consistent
with GEF’s Operational Program 15 for Sustainable Land Management, and reflects the
GEF focal area of land degradation and multi-focal areas. OP 15 provides a very
appropriate opportunity for Bhutan to seek GEF support to help address issues of land
degradation, which cut across sectors and administrative boundaries and have local,
national, regional and global environmental implications. The proposal would also have
positive implications for other GEF operational areas: OP 4 (Mountain Ecosystems), OP
9 (Integrated Land and Water) and OP 12 (Integrated Ecosystem Management).
This proposal requests GEF assistance to support efforts at improved land management in
Bhutan and to ensure the best possible combination of conservation and watershed
protection objectives with Bhutan’s development priorities. This will be the first project
of its kind in the South Asia Region and could provide useful lessons for replication in
neighboring countries and beyond.
4.2. Country “Drivenness”
RGOB’s request for GEF assistance builds upon the success of the BTF as a vehicle for
addressing the conservation of biodiversity. The request seeks to extend that capacity to
address cross-sectoral environmental issues, following the RGOB’s decision that
regulation by the National Environment Commission (NEC) would be limited, and that
RGOB would instead seek to build “frontline” awareness and technical capacity within
civil society, the private sector and the line agencies of government whose work have
direct environmental impact. The proposal also reflects the RGOB’s intellectual
leadership in highlighting the need to take a more holistic view of the environment, going
beyond conservation of biodiversity in parks and reserves, and challenging its
development partners to move beyond the conventional classifications of “green” and
“brown” environmental agendas managed in isolation from one another.
In 2002 the RGOB appointed a National Inter-Agency Task Force (NIATF) which
reported to the Prime Minister (then concurrently the Minister of Agriculture) to work
with the World Bank to assess environmental concerns and explore funding mechanisms.
Among the ideas discussed have been a variety of cross-sectoral land and watershed
management initiatives and early ideas about how to internalize the goods and services
represented by ecosystem functions, such as clean and reliable water on which the
hydropower utilities depend. Bhutan has a track record of solid governance and political
will to stay the course through difficult development challenges, and has been an “early
adopter” of innovative approaches to environmental stewardship. These are strongly
positive factors which make Bhutan a good candidate for GEF support in this new
operational area of sustainable land management.
5. Program and Policy Conformity
5.1. Conformity with GEF OP and Strategic Priorities
The RGOB has undertaken initiatives in line with the Conventions on Climate Change
and Biological Diversity, such as a workshop organized in 2002 to explore new
mechanisms such as the Prototype Carbon Fund. However, the scope for global carbon
sequestration faces major limitations in view of the very small geographic area of Bhutan
which implies relatively high transaction costs per ton of carbon sequestered
Bhutan’s high commitment to biodiversity is indicated by its protected area system, with
more than 25% of the country’s land area set aside in national parks, wildlife sanctuaries
and strict nature reserves. A recent “Gift to the Earth” adds another 9% of the land area
which is proposed as corridors for wildlife migration. The establishment and operating
costs of Bhutan’s protected areas are increasingly provided through the Bhutan Trust
Fund., which was established specifically for this purpose.
Following GEF Council approval of OP 15 in May 2003, BTF and the NIATF convened
a technical workshop with assistance from a World Bank mission, to review the scope
and objectives of the new operational program, and to explore eligible activities that
could help achieve the RGOB’s goal of addressing multiple sources of land degradation
pressure, whose cumulative impact threatens sustainable development prospects. These
discussions resulted in the present project proposal which represents an innovative way of
addressing multi-focal environmental issues and are best addressed through an explicit
mechanism such as OP 15. The project will also have benefits at the regional level,
through long-term improvement of management of Bhutanese watersheds which play a
critical role in regulating flow into the river system of the eastern Himalayas. This
heavily-populated region is directly dependent on the health of this river system, and is
highly vulnerable to events such as floods to which upstream land-cover and land-use
changes are an important contributing factor.
5.2. Project Incrementality, Baseline and Alternative Scenarios
The baseline scenario includes continuation of sectoral projects focused on improving
agricultural productivity, management of natural forests and protected areas, and recent
initiatives for watershed management. These actions can be expected to produce gradual
site-specific improvements in targeted areas, though sustainability and prospects for
replication may be problematic following completion of donor-financed project activities.
The RGOB has also begun strengthening the policy framework for community-based
natural resources management, to shift the context of natural resource use from “open
access” regimes and inappropriate top-down regulation by government in favor of a more
participatory process which gives local stakeholders greater say in decisions over local
resource use (MOA 2002). This model may bring about useful benefits with respect to
controlling the over-harvest of non-timber forest products as well as fuelwood collection,
and also offers important potential to limit the impacts of inappropriate grazing and
burning practices. The model also has important synergies with the broader
decentralization agenda of the RGOB, which helps to assure the high-level political
support and commitment which experience has shown are essential prerequisites for
bringing about real changes in natural resource management.
However, up to now these initiatives have not given attention to the ecosystem functions
and services which are being affected by changes in land-use and land cover. Thus, while
maintaining tree cover, or reducing flood risks, are clearly objectives which would be
addressed within existing sectoral approaches, their underlying ecological aspects may
well be overlooked except in the context of formally designated protected areas. Little
attention is given to factors such as changes in levels of vegetative and soil carbon,
ecosystem diversity and resilience beyond parks and reserves, or the loss of native
species due to changes in farming systems. What role these play in maintaining
ecological stability in a geologically unstable region is unknown, as are the potential
effects of climate change trends in a country whose impressive biodiversity is in large
part a function of rapid altitudinal gradients concentrated within a very narrow latitudinal
range (~150km from north to south).
Without the proposed project the following would occur:
Land use would continue to be fragmented and possibly unsustainable under
existing, sectorally-oriented and uncoordinated land use and management regimes;
The potential benefits from alternative land management approaches would
remain unrecognized, and would deprive local communities of important opportunities
for developing more productive and sustainable livelihoods;
Over-exploitation of forestry resources for construction and energy would
continue to degrade land and compromise future hydropower development, which will
have a potentially severe impact on the economy of the country as a whole;
Biodiversity conservation would be limited to maintaining the protected areas
system, with insufficient attention being paid to important ecosystems outside the parks
and reserves and the interaction between these ecological systems; and
Bhutan could forego an important opportunity to integrate appropriate measures
within a framework to incorporate local communities into sustainable natural resource
management systems.
The GEF scenario will enable the RGOB and its partners to focus explicitly on the
ecological aspects of landscape degradation, identifying such indirect or underlying
factors and designing mitigation measures which focus on enhancing the global
environmental benefits of landscape management. The GEF-supported incremental
actions would enable the RGOB to better monitor the overall health of ecosystems which
are coming under increasing stress, and to assess the impacts of site-specific problems
such as land clearing and erosion in their broader ecological context. Rather than
focusing on restoration of a small number of degraded sites so that land can be returned
to productive local uses, the GEF project would take the entire country as a case of a
threatened ecological system, and test carefully-selected techniques and institutional
mechanisms offering multiple environmental benefits (carbon sequestration, biological
richness, ecosystem diversity, maintenance of hydrological cycle, etc.).
GEF assistance would help capture the 'bigger picture" by implementing an ecosystemwide management approach to deal with the issue of unsustainable land use and
management. Under the baseline scenario, current trends in land degradation and loss are
expected to continue or worsen in many areas of Bhutan. Information would be
inadequate on the economic possibilities related to a range of sustainable natural resource
based activities. The RGOB lacks the technical and financial resources to promote the
implementation of appropriate and sustainable land management approaches in the
country and help facilitate small farmers and other local resource users to benefit from
improved land management techniques.
With the proposed GEF funding, it would be possible for the RGOB to take much more
proactive measures to address these issues in an integrated way, identify promising
technical and institutional innovations based on international best practice, conduct pilot
tests of those most appropriate to the Bhutanese context, and promote those practices
with demonstrated success in combining sustainable development and conservation. As
part of this, during project preparation, concepts will be explored such as (i) establishing
corporate and social responsibility of revenue-generating entities that rely upon
environmental services (hitherto treated as “free” public goods), and related to this, (ii)
the principle of internalizing costs associated with maintaining environmental services as
an essential input into sustainable use and development. An example of this is the idea of
possibly earmarking a portion of the substantial development budget currently
contributed by the power sector to support specified watershed maintenance activities.
Such activities would help to ensure watershed protection and maintain the quality and
volume of water, which in turn is vital to the long-term sustainability of hydropower
5.3. Sustainability, Replicability and Stakeholder Involvement
The RGOB proposes to engage local governments in mobilizing communities and to
convince local resource users and stakeholders of how they will benefit from adopting
improved land and watershed management practices. Building these factors into the
project design from the outset will be essential, thus the PDF activities will include
institutional assessment of the development committees at geog and dzongkhag levels,
and a series of local-level workshops to assess stakeholder interest in participation and to
ensure that local perspectives are adequately reflected in the final project design. The
RGOB is improving the policy framework for community-based natural resource
management (CBNRM), and various kinds of resource-user groups are now being given
increased scope for setting harvest limits and access conditions (lemongrass and
mushroom harvesting, grazing, fodder and fuelwood collection, etc.). This positive
development will be reinforced in critical ways by the GEF project, which will help the
RGOB and local resource managers to better understand the specific ecological
consequences of various resource management regimes. It will also help to integrate a
wider range of stakeholders and decision-makers into critical decisions than is presently
possible through the traditional sectoral lines of responsibility, which treat complex landmanagement issues as either “agricultural,” “forestry,” “water resources,” or
“infrastructure,” thereby failing to take account of parallel activities and decisions or
indirect effects which may undermine the objective being sought.
A detailed stakeholder assessment will be carried out during project preparation. In
addition to local resource users and communties, stakeholders would include geog and
dzongkhag administrations, field-based staff of line agencies such as forestry, agriculture,
and nature conservation, as well as other sectors whose operations have impacts on landuse, such as power, roads, and irrigation. The mechanisms to be developed in the GEF
project for convening the full range of land-related stakeholders—which presently do not
exist—will become one of the major elements of the long-term strategy for replication of
project achievements and benefits. Similarly, the incentive mechanisms demonstrated by
the project, which may include elements such as compensation for maintenance of
ecosystem functions, will also be important components of the strategy for replication
and sustainability. Decision will need to be made during preparation concerning options
for small credit, local revolving funds, etc., and among the criteria to be used in this
decision will be the likely sustainability and replication potential of such mechanisms.
Other countries with geologically-fragile upland ecosystems under pressure from
competing land-uses could also benefit from lessons to be learned from the GEF land
management project in Bhutan. Although some of the institutional aspects of this
operation will be specific to the unique Bhutanese cultural and social context, useful
lessons could usefully be drawn from the Bhutanese experience.
5.4. Monitoring and Evaluation
It is also proposed that project outputs and outcomes be spelled-out from the outset of
project design and that monitoring indicators and baseline information, at least for initial
project sites, be already established during the project preparation period. A monitoring
and evaluation framework also requires that targets, timeframes and intermediate
benchmark indicators be established as part of project preparation. The specific set of
indicators selected for any given project site will reflect the land degradation issue(s)
being addressed in that particular situation, and will track biophysical changes which can
be plausibly related to project-level interventions. It will be important during preparation
to establish the feasibility and cost implications associated with proposed indicators, as
data collection may be costly and time consuming, especially in remote sites. In some
cases it will also be difficult to differentiate project effects from background “noise” such
as normal variations in rainfall patterns and consequent changes in river discharge.
One of the incremental benefits of the GEF involvement relates to taking a more
comprehensive view of ecological impacts of landscape change, which means that
baseline assessments and subsequent monitoring need to focus on factors which would
not normally be picked-up in the course of conventional development investments
(biomass and soil carbon trends, for ex., or diversity of local plant communities). Because
OP15 also emphasizes the importance of linkages of landscape management with
sustainable livelihoods, the M&E framework will also include indicators directly relevant
to local socioeconomic considerations, such as crop yields and soil fertility. While these
dimensions are not mutually exclusive (biomass levels would be expected to be closely
associated with soil fertility, for ex.), the project M&E system will need to take account
of both baseline aspects as well as the specific global environmental benefits being
financed by the GEF grant. Thus a key output of the design phase will be careful
attention to developing a cost-effective M&E framework which can answer both sets of
questions without consuming a disproportionate share of project financial and human
6. Financing Modality and Cost-Effectiveness
6.1. Project Preparation
The RGOB proposes that project preparation be financed by a GEF grant of $300,000
together with an RGOB contribution in-kind of $50,000. The RGOB has also requested
support from the Global Mechanism of the Convention to Combat Desertification. Project
preparation funds will be spent on the PDF activities described in section 7 below. The
World Bank has committed $100,000 in parallel co-financing which will contribute
directly to the preparation of this operation (see Table 2).
6.2. Project Funding
A tentative proposal at this time is for GEF funding of $7.5 million, and co-financing by
the RGOB, bilateral donors, the Global Mechanism, local stakeholders and beneficiaries
amounting to another $9 million. These amounts will be finalized during project
preparation. Project funds will flow through the MOF to the implementing agencies (to
be determined during project preparation) who will be responsible for delivering and
reporting on the sub-projects approved under the Project Implementation Plan. The
project will add value to RGOB’s conservation efforts to date, to what has been achieved
under GEF’s previous support to Bhutan for BTF and other initiatives (see sections 6.2 to
6.4 below).
7. Institutional Coordination and Support
7.1. Core commitments and linkages
The RGOB is committed to providing a high-level interface within its main agencies
which are responsible for sustainable land management. These main agencies are (a) the
Ministry of Finance which now includes the National Planning Commission, (b) the NEC
which has overview and regulatory functions in environmental matters, and (c) the
Ministry of Agriculture which has responsibility for maintaining the healthy development
of Bhutan’s land and renewable natural resources.
The BTF, while not an RGOB agency per se, has an important role in financing
environmental conservation measures related to biodiversity and ecosystem diversity, and
is therefore another player. At the local level, the RGOB intends to focus implementation
through local administrative units already described above (see section 3.2). These local
administrations will coordinate the activities of local stakeholders and residents to
complete the implementation chain down to the grassroots level.
Modalities for project coordination between the various agencies and partners will be
finalized during the PDF process. There is high-level political commitment to the
proposal, as well as priority to ensure an efficient and cost-effective management
structure, minimizing the need for expanded bureaucracies which would be difficult to
sustain after completion of the donor-financed phase of operations.
7.2. Conformity with Bank Strategy
The World Bank Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for Bhutan, approved in February
2000, emphasizes the transfer of knowledge and strengthening of donor coordination,
with lending taking a subsidiary role. The CAS acknowledges the RGOB’s preference for
grant assistance, and anticipates that IDA lending will continue to play a modest role in
areas of special need. The CAS also notes that IDA will “continue to explore knowledgeintensive and innovative opportunities” for financing high-value added investments
consistent with Bhutan’s development vision. The CAS identifies six major
environmental priorities for the RGOB: (i) Forest regeneration and biodiversity; (ii)
Conservation and development; (iii) Greening of the National Accounts; (iv)
Institutionalize capacities for Environment Impact Assessment; (v) Watershed
management; and (vi) Environmental legislation.
The present proposal is consistent with the CAS strategy of selectively supporting
opportunities reflecting high RGOB priority, building on existing partnerships, and
enabling knowledge transfer and innovation. More specifically, the GEF project will help
to integrate the individual environmental priorities listed in the CAS, to enhance the
impact and sustainability of initiatives which otherwise are being addressed in isolation.
7.3. Linkages with other Donor Activity
The proposed GEF project will enhance and reinforce other donor activity including
forest resources and land-use planning, and watershed management financed by
Switzerland, Germany, the European Commission and IDA. The proposed project will
also strengthen the assistance of the Netherlands (SNV) and Denmark in a governance
project to strengthen geogs. It will also complement UNDP’s support to Bhutan in a
number of biodiversity conservation efforts related to wildlife protection and nature
conservation. The proposed project will be developed concurrently with a project on
Rural Development and Decentralization which the RGOB has proposed for IDA
7.4. Other GEF Programs in Bhutan
Other GEF programs in Bhutan include:
 A UNDP project on “Linking and Enhancing Protected Areas in the Temperate
Broadleafed Ecoregion of Bhutan”
 The “Bhutan National Greenhouse Gas Project”
 “Sustainable Mini/Micro Hydropower Development for Rural Electrification”
“National Capacity Self-Assessment for Global Environmental Management”
a GEF Small Grants Program.
7.5. Consultation, Coordination and Collaboration with the Client
The World Bank has worked closely with the NIATF (see section 5.1), and organized a
planning workshop in Thimphu in August 2003 to define the scope of the present project
proposal. The workshop reviewed suggestions from MOF, sectoral agencies (NEC,
Education, Works and Human Settlements, Trade and Industry, Forestry) as well as the
BTF and the Royal Society for the Preservation of Nature (RSPN). Additional
discussions were held with the Ministers of Finance, Home Affairs, and Agriculture, as
well as with donors including the Swiss (Helvetas) and UNDP in Thimphu. This project
proposal was jointly developed by the NIATF and the World Bank.
8. Output of PDF Activities
PDF resources will be used to help define the new institutional and implementation
arrangements needed to mainstream this new approach toward environmental
management through a project proposed for GEF and other support. PDF support will
also help to complement and accelerate the preparation of the National Action Program
(NAP) of Bhutan under the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) at the national
Activities proposed during project preparation include:
Activity 1: Policy, Institutional and Stakeholder Analysis
This activity will examine the present policy and institutional framework relevant to
improved environmental planning and management in Bhutan, review the role of local
government authorities, private sector and local inhabitants who have a stake in the
environmentally sustainable outcomes on the ground, and suggest how they may be
coordinated to implement the proposed project components. (Estimated budget: $30,000).
Activity 2: Development of Technical Criteria for Project Site Selection
This activity will assess relevant work done by various departments and technical
agencies (Geology and Mines, Survey, Soil Services Center, Land Use Planning, etc) to
define criteria of land suitability for different development programs, and start the
groundwork for development of hazard zoning and land suitability maps, based on data
on watershed conditions, boundaries of existing reserves and wildlife corridors, existing
and proposed hydropower sites, carrying capacity of the land and water resources, etc.
This information, even if semi-detailed, will help to establish the technical basis for
project site selection. (Estimated budget: $70,000).
Activity 3: Project Preparation Workshops
A series of project preparation workshops are anticipated, starting with detailed work
among agencies to define issues, constraints and suggested activities on land degradation
(see Appendix for three examples of activities), and rapidly expanding to include local
government (Dzongkhag and Geog) officials, local inhabitants and other stakeholders.
Site visits will be included. As they become available, the outputs from Activities 1 and
2 will be used as inputs into these workshops.
The format of the workshops will be participatory and interactive and follow that used in
the August 2003 joint workshop between RGOB, BTF and IDA. Technical advisors
fielded under PDF resources and/or by IDA will help to review knowledge and
international best practice on topics such as technical criteria for determining land
suitability for development projects in similar terrain, risk assessment and mitigation
under similar circumstances, alternative accounting and costing mechanisms to value
environmental costs, international experience on incentives for eliciting stakeholder
participation and managing the ecosystem for environmental sustainability.
Outputs from the workshops include: (a) consensus-building among workshop
participants on new institutional arrangements to be piloted and field-tested in Bhutan to
build sustainable approaches towards managing and reversing land degradation; (b) a
detailed project proposal, including financing plan and a project implementation plan.
(Estimated budget: $25,000).
Activity 4: Development of Monitoring and Evaluation Framework
This activity includes reviewing NEC’s (DANIDA-supported) Environmental
Information Management System to see if and how it could be expanded to support the
creation of a monitoring and evaluation framework for the proposed project, or where
else such a framework can best be lodged. Details of such a framework will be defined
during project preparation and implemented under the proposed project. Outputs of this
activity include specification of measurable indicators, baseline information, intermediate
targets, risks and a timeframe for implementation and experimentation, monitoring and
dissemination of relevant information in a timely manner to all stakeholders as part of an
information-education-communications program. (Estimated budget: $25,000)
Activity 5: Detailed Socio-economic Appraisal and Beneficiary Workshops for Selected
Following selection of initial pilot project sites under Component 2 of the proposed
project (likely to be between 3-5 locations covering agreed priority land degradation
issues), detailed baseline studies and beneficiary consultations will be carried out in each
location. The purpose is to compile social, economic, institutional and technical
information to verify the nature and severity of land degradation pressures, and assess
local willingness and incentives to participate in project activities. The output of this
activity constitutes baseline information as an input into the Project Monitoring and
Evaluation Framework described in section 5.4 above. (Estimated budget: $105,000).
Activity 6: Detailed Description of Project Costs, Implementation arrangements and
Financing Plan.
This activity will assess and refine the indicative arrangements described in this Project
Concept Document and accompanying PDF B application, and will appraise the need for
GEF financing for the proposed project. (Estimated budget: $20,000).
Activity 7: Completion of Project Appraisal Document for GEF
The output of this activity will be a fully-elaborated Project Appraisal Document,
including a Financing Plan and a Project Implementation Plan. (Estimated budget:
8.1. Proposed Preparation Budget
The total estimated cost for preparation of the GEF project is $400,000 of which
$300,000 is requested from the GEF as a Block B Preparation Grant. The Royal
Government of Bhutan will provide co-financing valued at US$ 50,000 including staff,
office space, vehicles and equipment for preparation of this Project. The RGOB has
requested the Global Mechanism (GM) of the Convention to Combat Desertification to
contribute to the PDF process as well as to the proposed project. The break-down of
preparation costs by activity and source of funding is shown in Table 2, below, and the
timeline of preparation activities is found in Table 3.
Table 2. Preparation Plan Budget
[to be confirmed]
Preparation Activity
Activity 1. Policy,
Institutional and
Stakeholder Analysis
Activity 2:
Development of
Technical Criteria for
Project Site Selection
Activity 3: Project
Preparation Workshops
Activity 4: Development
of Monitoring and
Evaluation Framework
Activity 5: Detailed
Appraisal and
Beneficiary Workshops
for Selected Sites
Activity 6: Detailed
Description of Project
Costs, Implementation
arrangements and
Financing Plan.
Activity 7: Completion
of Project Appraisal
Document for GEF
Table 3. Timeline of PDF Activities
of proposal
to GEF
Activity 1.
instit. &
Activity 2.
Devel. of
criteria for
Activity 3.
Activity 4.
Dev. of
Activity 5.
Activity 6.
Prep. of
costs and
Activity 7.
Prep. of
Project to
WB Board
Case Studies identified at the National Inter-Agency Task Force (NIATF)
Workshop, Thimphu, August 13-15, 2003
CASE 1: Unsustainable land-use practices in Bhutan
A detailed case study was presented of Tshogompa village, typical of such settlements in
Trashigang Dzongkhag, in the easternmost region of Bhutan.
This is an area at 1,100 to 2,000 meters elevation, with annual rainfall averaging 650mm.
In recent years, the village experienced heavy landslides and ravine formation, with some
60 rural households affected, of which 41 needed to be resettled to safer areas. The
region’s geological characteristics (karst topography with caverns formed as ground
water dissolves the underlying calcareous rock) and tectonic disturbance make it
inherently vulnerable to landslide. In addition, changes in land use also aggravate the
process of gully formation and are a significant factor contributing to landslides. Due to
human population pressure, much of the forest land around the village has been cleared
for “tseri” (shifting) cultivation, and other lands previously under tseri have been
converted to dryland farming, and have become overgrazed by livestock. Poor
management of surface water resources is another factor believed to be contributing to
gully formation and landslides in Tshogompa.
While mitigation measures have been identified, complete remedies are not possible due
to the geological instability of the site. Immediate remedial measures to arrest further
deterioration include the following:
 stabilization of gullies and ravines through planting of fast-growing trees, shrub
species and bamboos.
 once stabilized, tree crops (fruit crops, fodder trees, etc) can then be cultivated on
stabilized soil.
 a buffer zone around the landslips and gullies is also needed, to prevent further
damage, together with appropriate drainage to channel surplus waterflow to the
stream below the village.
 landscaping, planting of hedgerows, and reforestation in and around the village
area will help to restore much of the affected area and prevent future damage.
In the longer-term, there is a need to develop better diagnostic tools (including geohazard
maps) to help quantify and monitor erosion and topsoil loss, to improve the prioritization
of high-risk sites and to focus mitigation strategies on cost-effective and replicable
CASE 2: Uncontrolled urban growth
Urban areas in Bhutan have generally evolved around a “dzong”, originally built in
strategic locations selected for defence purposes (e.g. steep hills overlooking a river or
pass). As women were not allowed to reside in these dzongs, housing for family
gradually grew outside the ramparts of the dzongs, and became the nucleus of unplanned
settlements. The genesis of other unplanned settlements can be traced to local truck stops
for ‘Doma’ (beetlenut), refreshments, etc.
Many of these locations are not inherently suited for extensive settlement and often pose
serious problems for modern urban infrastructure which follows expanding settlements.
Often located in areas prone to erosion, these settlements may spread into wetlands which
are significant for biodiversity and watershed maintenance functions. Urban growth also
increases sediment loads on key watercourses which threatens future hydropower
potential and encroaches on biodiversity reserves and productive cropland.
Presently, Bhutan has 28 “urban settlements”, and another 26 classified as “likely growth
centers”. Urban expansion in Thimphu and Phuentsholing, the country’s two settlements
presently classified as “cities” has now extended into steep, eroding hillsides and into
wetlands which RGOB urban planners consider unsustainable for urban settlement.
Though often completely spontaneous, such growth can be quite rapid, with urban
encroachment and ‘squatter’ settlements happening before the policy process has had
time to react.
Bondey town, adjacent to Paro Airport, is an example of unplanned (but predictable)
settlement and induced growth around major infrastructure development. Rangjung
town in eastern Bhutan is an example of settlement around hydropower plants which has
quickly become associated with informal markets, “shanty” type housing, and unplanned
urban growth. Pemagatshel town, in southeastern Bhutan, represents an extreme case of
rapid loss of urban land, with large areas of the town literally sliding down into the river.
Many other settlements are already facing similar problems, to varying degrees.
While Government policy is to check rural-to-urban migration and manage such social
and other transformations that this induces, this policy has had limited success. In many
urban areas, continuation of present trends will soon present policy-makers with very
difficult choices. Meanwhile, loss of productive agricultural land and increased
sedimentation of watercourses continues, threatening the prospects for future sustainable
Mitigation strategies need to be examined in more detail, but could include measures to
favor locating new growth centers on selected plateaus or already-degraded forest areas,
rather than allowing unchecked expansion onto wetlands and pristine forest. Construction
methods could also be adapted to make better use of available hillsides around existing
towns, which are often already under scrub vegetation and grazed by livestock. Policies
to protect remaining wetlands and valley bottoms need to be strengthened and
implemented. Better information is needed on land suitability in all 54 areas now
designated for urban growth, so that proposed developments can be screened for potential
impact on erosion. Methodologies for zoning appropriate areas for development need to
give high priority to these issues.
CASE 3: Unsustainable pressures on forest areas.
Although total forest cover in Bhutan is estimated at 72.5% (well above the national
policy of maintaining 60% forest cover in perpetuity), recent findings highlight disturbing
trends in the proportion which has actual canopy cover and high-quality of forested land.
RGOB is now concerned that the country’s officially designated forest estate is under
growing pressure from a variety of sources. These include:
(i) large-scale harvesting for fuelwood (Bhutan has one of the world’s highest per
capita consumption of wood fuels) and timber for housing;
(ii) timber policies which lead to mismatch of supply and demand and provide little
local incentive for avoiding damage to areas of high commercial potential;
lack of institutional mechanisms to harmonize multi-sectoral
development works which affect forest areas, such as infrastructure
over-harvesting of non-timber forest products (mushrooms,
medicinal herbs, etc.); and
fires and uncontrolled grazing (both migratory and local) which
threaten the regeneration of timber species and convert forested
land into grazing land.
Solutions to these problems are difficult as they cut across multiple sectors and require
significant changes of behavior by local resource users, as well as policy reforms.
One area needing immediate attention to support mitigation measures is focused research
into the sustainability of forest resource use within different ecosystems and areas to be
provided for use under various management regimes. Previous efforts which sought to
end traditional practices deemed harmful (e.g. tseri cultivation) have had mixed results,
and greater attention needs to be focused on incentive mechanisms which have greater
relevance to the livelihoods of resource users, and which can be monitored and adapted
as circumstances change. Related to this is the set of issues surrounding implementation
of the area set aside for wildlife corridors, which is coming under tension with growing
pressures from wildlife predation of crops. There may be scope for zoning adjustments
and other relatively simple measures to better configure resource-use and access patterns
in such areas, to minimize human-wildlife conflict and to provide incentives and
technical solutions which can mitigate such problems.
Another area of follow-up is the need for focused effort to remove any remaining areas in
the policy and legal framework which continue to exacerbate the situation (e.g.
administered harvest quotas and prices, mismatch of supply and demand, sizeable
allocations of ‘free’ timber to institutions/parastatals and households for their needs).
Finally, while the new Decentralization initiative is now bringing about significant shifts
in institutional responsibilities, many areas of implementation remain uncertain. These
include technical and staffing resources needed for dzongkhags and geogs to take over
primary responsibility for overseeing natural resources management policy and
enforcement of regulations, and review of potential disjunction between the decisionmaking scope now delegated to local authority and the provisions of the Forest Act.
Beyond a narrow sense of a purely environmental assessment and initiative, a sustainable
land management approach for forest areas in Bhutan calls for careful assessment of
technical, social, institutional and legal factors, impediments, opportunities for reform.
Appendix 2. Types of land degradation due to human actions (excluding natural phenomena e.g.
glacial erosion, etc)
1. In-situ degradation
 depletion of soil
organic matter
depletion of
soil acidification
2. In-situ degradation
 topsoil capping
3. Degradation involving
soil removal (non-water
 wind erosion
intensifies nutrition
depletion, acidification and
erosion; reduces soil
moisture, crop cover and
yields, weakens soil
structures, soils harder &
more difficult to cultivate,
reduces soil biodiversity
reduced crop yields and
plant cover, intensifed
acidification and erosion
when converting
acute in
forest or grassland to chhushing, also
on kamshing &
short fallow tseri1
when excessive
harvest off-takes
occur without
fertilizers, burning
Reduces availability of soil excessive N fertilizer
nutrients, and possible
nitrate contamination of
induced deficiencies of
excessive P fertilizer
other nutrients
on potato and apple
widespread in
intensivelycultivated areas
increased runoff & surface
erosion;reduced infiltration
of rain or irrigation water;
delayed/reduced seedling
risk of waterlogging,
increases runoff, surface
erosion; reduced crop
growth and yields
Insufficient organic
fertilizers, exposure of
bare soils to heavy
Silty and fine
sandy soils; land
freshly cultivated
for kamshing
cattle grazing on wet
lands, continuous use
of standard ploughing
tools to same soil
irrigation, leaking
irrigation channels,
blockage of drainage
lines by roads and
other structures
widespread in
cultivation of fine
sandy soils in windy
Wangdi valley
Repeated cultivation
on steep slopes
Maize crops in E.
Bhutan, potatoes
in Phobjika
increase in weeds,
susceptibility to land slips
fine sand
deposits,depletion of
organic matter & nutrients;
reduced crop & plant
yields, reduced surface
cultivation erosion Reduced yields in upper
fields; increased
vulnerability to further
W. Bhutan
more common
on logging roads
than public
Chhushing—basin irrigated rice; kamshing—rainfed cropping; tseri—orchard or bush fallow.
4. Water & gravity erosion
Depletion of organic matter
 splash erosion
& nutrients; increases
runoff, sheet & rill erosion
Increased runoff, reduced
 sheet erosion
pland & crop yields;
develops into rills & gullies
Bare soils exposed by
clearing & cultivation
during heavy rainfall
forestry skidding
trails, livestock trails,
leaking irrigation
channels, exposure of
topsoil to heavy rain
Organic matter & nutrient Unchecked sheet and
rill erosion
depletion; develops into
splash erosion; skid
gully erosion
and stock trails,
leaking irrigation
channels, exposure of
topsoil to heavy rain
Depressions in ground
Exposed road
piping erosion
surface where subsoil
cuttings & irrigation
pipes collapse; contributes terrace risers; leaking
to gully formation,
irrigation chanels,
landslips; nutrient and
organic matter depletion
Complete removal of
Unchecked rills, skid
gully erosion
productive land, lowering
and stock trails
of water table, large
volumes of sediment sent
downslope and
Deforestation, road
mass movements Complete removal of
cuttings, over(landslips &
irrigation and other
infrastructure, lowering of waterlogging
water table, large volumes
of sediment sent
downslope and
Similar to above but on
Unchecked gullies &
larger scale
5. River processes
 bank erosion
flood deposition
Fine sandy &
silty topsoil
Clay-rich soils in
E. Bhutan
during heavy
Subsoil seepage
associated with
Deep red clays
e.g. Punakha,
Lobeysa, are
highly erodible
and deeply
Highest risk in S.
Bhutan; slides
also triggered by
even small earth
Radhi, also
many example in
S. Bhutan
Complete loss of
productive land; damage
or destruction of
Loss of productive land,
disruption to infrastructure
Upstream erosion;
cuts into cliffs or slip
Concentrated in
productive valley
Land clearance and
erosion upstream
Topsoil buried by raw
debris; blocks irrigation
channels, damage to
Land clearance and
erosion upstream
Severe in S.
Bhutan during
heavy rains; also
concentrated in
productive valley
concentrated in
productive valley
6. Urban and industrial
 land
spoil tipping
riverbed minining
for sand & gravel
Productive land converted
for urban, mining or
industrial uses
Productive land
contaminated by chemical
or physical discharges
Topsoil buried by mining or
construction spoil (debris);
sediment loading of
May intensify bed erosion
Where population is
Mismanagement of
Thimphu, Paro,
Jakar, and in S.
Thimphu and S.
Improper disposal of
construction spoil
hydropower sites
Extensive in W.
and S. Bhutan
Adapted from Norbu et al., 2002.
APPENDIX 3. References
Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation, (2002). Annual Report 2000-2001.
Biodiversity Information Management System On-Line (BIMS Online):
Dorji, Kinzang (2002). “Message from the Chairman of the Board,” Bhutan Trust Fund
Annual Report 2000-2001, p.3
Global Environment Facility, (1998). GEF Evaluation of Experience with Conservation
Trust Funds. GEF/C12/Inf.6; Sept. 10, 1998.
Namgyel, Tobgay (2001). “Sustaining Conservation Finance: Future Directions for the
Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation;” Journal of Bhutan Studies,
Summer 2001, Vol.3, No. 1; pp. 48-83.
Norbu, Chencho, Ian Baillie, Karma Dema, Jamyang, Yeshey Dema, Kado Tshering, H.
B. Tamang, Francis Turkelboom and Sonam Norbu. “Types of Land Degradation in
Bhutan.” (Submitted for publication in 2002)
Royal Government of Bhutan, National Environment Commission, (2002). Environment
Sector Plan, Ninth Five Year Plan 2002-2007.
Royal Government of Bhutan, National Planning Commission, (2002). Ninth Plan, 20022007.
Royal Government of Bhutan, Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Research and
Development Services (2002). Community-Based Natural Resource Management in
Bhutan: a Framework.
UNEP, (2002). Bhutan State of Environment Report, 2001. UNEP Regional Resource
Centre for Asia and Pacific, 2001.
World Bank. World Development Indicators 2002. Washington, D.C.
WWF Bhutan website: