Land Policies, Land Management and Land Degradation in the Hindu Kush-Himalayas: Bhutan Study Report
The present study on land policies, land management and land degradation in Bhutan is part of the overall efforts of ICIMOD to assess the impact of land policies on land management and land degradation in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region. The study highlights the clarity of vision of the RGOB on pro-environment land policies. The lands policies in Bhutan are process oriented and are mainly related to agriculture, forests, and livestock.
Limited availability of arable land in the country is seen as a major constraint to further improving the livelihoods of mountain households and a challenge to balancing agricultural land needs with environmental conservation. Similarly, the livestock population is rising beyond the carrying capacity of the rangelands.
Key issues that emerged from the study are that presently environmental degradation is limited to a few pockets and necessary changes to policies and programme are being contemplated to reverse the process. Implementation of holistic programmes has helped maintain forest cover over 72 percent of the country's area. The government policy is to maintain the forest cover well above 60 percent, even though some land will have to be brought under agriculture to cope with the increasing scarcity of cultivated land. Policy implementation on phasing out shifting cultivation is being followed strictly, and there are clear policy guidelines about causing minimal damage to the environment during infrastructural development.