Nestled within the HKH, Bhutan’s geographical diversity, combined with its equally diverse climatic conditions, make it a rich repository of biological diversity and ecosystems. Its various forests types and freshwater ecosystems are estimated to be the biggest contributor of ecosystem goods and services in Bhutan, contributing to the wellbeing of the Bhutanese people. More than 69% of the population are subsistence farmers who are dependent on forests, water bodies, and croplands for agriculture and livestock. At the macroeconomic level, Bhutan’s development agenda relies heavily on hydropower and tourism, which are, in turn, highly dependent on natural resources and ecosystem services. An ecosystem valuation carried out by Kubiszewski et al. (2013) estimated that a total of USD 4,944 million worth of benefits are derived from the ecosystem services provided by forests, rangelands, wetlands, and the inland waters of Bhutan.
However, Bhutan’s mountain ecosystem, like the rest of the Himalayan region, is fragile due to its topographic, biological, and physical features. Its dynamics and stability are influenced by its development status as an emergent economy, as well as other anthropogenic factors, including climate change. Hence, the development of policies and strategies to address the complexities of ecosystem management and enhance its services for human wellbeing is imperative.
In this context, with support from the European Union, under the aegis of the Support to Rural Livelihoods and Climate Change Adaptation in the Himalayas (Himalica) initiative, the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN), with financial and technical support from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), carried out this study to develop a comprehensive understanding of the state and dynamics of ecosystems and their services in Barshong Gewog in Tsirang, Bhutan and their nexus with human wellbeing.
This report draws on both primary and secondary information. A participatory rural appraisal (PRA) and household questionnaire survey were carried out to assess the state and dynamics of ecosystems in Barshong Gewog and their capacity to provide goods and services, as well as community vulnerability to various drivers of change and their coping strategies in response to perceived changes. In addition, the geospatial analysis was used to map the land use and land cover change in relation to the spatial and temporal changes in ecosystems and ecosystem services in the study area
This publication describes the results of a detailed investigation into the role of Apis cerana in large cardamom pollination, designed to establish whether the bee is a pollinator or pollen robber and determine its impact on crop yield and quality. The research was conducted on farmers’ fields located at different sites in Sikkim, India: Lingee Payong (1,100 masl) and Hee Martam (1,500 masl) in West Sikkim, and Jaubari (2,000 masl) in South Sikkim.
The methodology consisted of on-farm experimental research and data collection through regular field observations, and a review of the literature on large cardamom pollination. Three experimental procedures were used at each site: (i) observations of the foraging behaviour of Apis cerana bees on cardamom flowers, and the impact of pollination by Apis cerana and other pollinators on capsule yield and quality (capsule weight and number of seeds per capsule), in a plot with a medium-sized healthy colony of Apis cerana placed at the centre; (ii) observations of the foraging behaviour of bumblebees and other pollinators, and of capsule yield and quality, in a plot about 250 m away from the plot containing the Apis cerana colony; and (iii) observations of capsule yield and quality in plants caged in a nylon net (3 x 3 x 3 m) to exclude all pollinators as a control.
The results of the study showed that Apis cerana is an effective pollinator of large cardamom. Although the Apis cerana bees are relatively small, they landed on the anther-stigma column of the cardamom flowers multiple times from different directions while collecting pollen which ensured that they also touched the stigma and thus pollinated the flowers. Other favourable foraging attributes included foraging throughout the day, visiting all flowers on a panicle and then moving on to another, and multiple visits to flowers. The favourable attributes translated into a 45% increase in yield compared to natural pollination in fields with a supplementary Apis cerana colony. The fruit set, seed set, and fruit and seed weight (capsule quality) were all significantly higher in plots with an Apis cerana colony than in plots without a colony or with all pollinators excluded. The results suggest that especially in areas where bumblebee populations and other natural pollinators are scarce, Apis cerana can be used to pollinate large cardamom to ensure a reasonable harvest and better quality capsules