FRA Working Paper 14

Forest resources of Bhutan - Country report


The Forest Resources Assessment Programme

Forests are crucial for the well-being of humanity. They provide foundations for life on earth through ecological functions, by regulating the climate and water resources, and by serving as habitats for plants and animals. Forests also furnish a wide range of essential goods such as wood, food, fodder and medicines, in addition to opportunities for recreation, spiritual renewal and other services.

Today, forests are under pressure from expanding human populations, which frequently leads to the conversion or degradation of forests into unsustainable forms of land use. When forests are lost or severely degraded, their capacity to function as regulators of the environment is also lost, increasing flood and erosion hazards, reducing soil fertility, and contributing to the loss of plant and animal life. As a result, the sustainable provision of goods and services from forests is jeopardized.

FAO, at the request of the member nations and the world community, regularly monitors the world's forests through the Forest Resources Assessment Programme. The next report, the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000 (FRA 2000), will review the forest situation by the end of the millennium. FRA 2000 will include country-level information based on existing forest inventory data, regional investigations of land-cover change processes, and a number of global studies focusing on the interaction between people and forests. The FRA 2000 report will be made public and distributed on the world wide web in the year 2000.

The Forest Resources Assessment Programme is organized under the Forest Resources Division (FOR) at FAO headquarters in Rome. Contact persons are:

Robert Davis FRA Programme Coordinator

Peter Holmgren FRA Project Director

or use the e-mail address:


The Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) Working Paper Series is designed to reflect the activities and progress of the FRA Programme of FAO. Working Papers are not authoritative information sources - they do not reflect the official position of FAO and should not be used for official purposes. Please refer to the FAO forestry website ( ) for access to official information.

The FRA Working Paper Series provides an important forum for the rapid release of preliminary FRA 2000 findings needed for validation and to facilitate the final development of an official quality-controlled FRA 2000 information set. Should users find any errors in the documents or have comments for improving their quality they should contact either Robert Davis or Peter Holmgren at

Paper drafted by: Kailash Govil, Regional Project Coordinator GCP/RAS/162/JPN
Editorial production: Patrizia Pugliese, FRA Programme


List of Figures

List of Tables

1 Executive Summary

2 Bhutan
2.1 General
2.2 Geology
2.3 Soil
2.4 Topography
2.5 Watershed
2.6 Ecological zones
2.7 Institutions of governance
2.8 Social institutions
2.9 Summary

3 Forest Resources
3.1 General
3.2 Land use
3.3 Forests

3.4 Forest cover
3.5 Change in forest cover
3.6 Forest growing stock
3.7 Annual yield
3.8 Biomass production
3.9 Biological diversity
3.10 Conservation of biodiversity
3.11 Protected areas
3.12 Land use within protected areas
3.13 Management of protected areas
3.14 Summary

4 Factors affecting forest resources
4.1 General
4.2 Human population
4.3 Agriculture
4.4 Livestock
4.5 Human development
4.6 Economic development
4.7 Inter and intra-sectoral growth
4.8 Economic linkages with other sectors
4.9 Market interference
4.10 Summary

5 Use of forest resources
5.1 General
5.2 Firewood
5.3 Domestic consumption of fuelwood
5.4 Timber
5.5 Domestic consumption of timber
5.6 Pasture
5.7 Shifting cultivation
5.8 Wooden shingles and splinters
5.9 Sokshing (woodlot for collection of leaf litter)
5.10 Plant material for vegetable dyes
5.11 Raw material for wood-based industries
5.12 Raw material for non wood-based industries
5.13 Trees for religious purposes
5.14 Sacred trees and forests
5.15 Watersheds for hydropower
5.16 Summary

6 Forest planning and management
6.1 General
6.2 Main problems
6.3 National Forest Policy
6. 4 Forest planning process
6.5 Forestry and five year plans
6.6 Forest management plans and forest management units
6.7 Forestry organization
6.8 Summary

7 Forest regulation
7.1 General
7.2 Land Act
7.3 Livestock Act
7.4 Forest Act
7.5 A local resource management institution: reesup
7.6 Enforcement of forest regulations
7.7 Summary

Appendix 1: Supplementary tables for Chapter 2
Table A1.1 Dry months in different sub-catchments

Appendix 2: Supplementary tables for Chapter 3
Table A2.1 Land use classification under different studies
Table A2.2 Land use in each dzongkhag
Table A2.3 Forest cover by crown density and dzongkhag
Table A2.4 Change in land use
Table A2.5 Districtwise growing stock
Table A2.6 Biomass production in districts
Table A2.7 Land use in protected areas

Appendix 3: supplementary tables for Chapter 4
Table A3.7. Expected rates of growth of GDP and population Table A3.1 Population forecast
Table A3.2 Livestock population
Table A3.3 Human development Index
Table A3.4 Sector Shares of gross domestic product (GDP) at 1980 prices
Table A3.5 Past gross domestic product (GDP) in 1980 prices
Table A3.6 GDP during the current five year plan period
Table A3.7 Expected rates of growth of GDP and population

Appendix 4: supplementary tables for Chapter 5
Table A4.2 Domestic consumption of construction timber
Table A4.3 Area of natural and improved pastures
Table A4.4. Shifting cultivation


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