The world is challenged by many environmental issues. Keeping in mind its pros and cons many countries around the world are adopting different methods to combat those issues.
With rapidly changing world, it has its own desires to accomplish .Once a peaceful place, now with economic development it has changed a lot. Even rural areas have moved from a stone age to a modern one.
The pollution from these modern facilities has highly degraded the pristine environment and thus contributing significantly in global warming. In order to become rich over night, the people from rural areas do carry out poaching activities such as killing of wild boar, tigers, rein, deer ,bears and other endangered species, thus again degrading the environment due to unbalanced natural lifestyle which directly contributes to areas become barren, water sources getting dried and these factors directly contributes to high investment plan in saving both planet earth and human life.
With so many economic activities and peoples undying desire to make wealth has resulted in some serious environment concerns. Never the less, as a saying goes necessity is the mother of invention.The economic development activities should take place with sound ecological knowledge. Now with lots of awareness programs on environment conservation being conducted by Royal Government of Bhutan, the people from different districts has geared towards saving the planet earth in their own small ways by doing lots of mitigation works to restore the greenery and go green once again.
SOME OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES IN BHUTAN
Some of the major environmental issues in Bhutan are Deforestation as People in Bhutan are mostly farmers and illiterate who earn their living through agricultural products. Illegal logging of timber has been popular and it is also the part of black marketing for those products. In order to make more room for agricultural works, forests are being felled. Trees are being out for timbers which are sold at double the price. In the wake of these activities, wild life forced to survive in increasingly fragmented spaces around Bhutan. This has lead to loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecological services. Vast areas of forest in Bhutan is destructed for agricultural practices and exploited for products like wood, timber without planting new growth. This is a serious issue which has to be looked upon in Bhutan (CBD, 2002).
Due to deforestation, mainly cutting beyond limits for fuel extraction has resulted major land degradation and soil erosions in Bhutan. It is a manmade as well as natural phenomenon .The total area under forest is 72.5% of the country and the cultivated area is only 7.8 %( CSO).There has been also case of minor forest fire caused by the people. With the modern agricultural practice, people in rural areas has cautiously adopted the method of using excess chemical fertilizers and use of heavy equipments such as power tiller which eventually resulted in decline capability to produce agricultural products.
Air pollution is defined as undesirable change in physical or biological characteristics of air, water and land brought about by mans activities that may harmfully affect living organisms and other resources. Air pollution resulted in declined crop output and developed concerns about public health. The number of industries are increasing and as a result the GDP has gone up from 0.01% in 1982 to3.2% in1992(MoP 1996).The sources of air pollution are burning of fossils fuels, automobiles, industries like the fertilizer plants, thermal plants, textile industries and steel plants as shown in figure 1. 2.
Water pollution is a major problem associated with the developing countries.The major pollutants are the organic matter of the sewer, metallic substances and other inorganic chemicals from the industries, hot water, oil, inorganic fertilizers and pesticides as shown in figure 1.1.
Left: Water pollution.Right: Air pollution.
Waste disposal is an emerging problem in Bhutan especially in urban areas such as in Thimphu, Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Bumthang. In the absence of improperly disposed of vacant land. All of these are serious health hazard apart from being eyesores. They boost numbers of insects vector like flies. Mosquitoes, scavengers such as stray dogs, pigs and rats which spread dangerous diseases. The wastes can be classified into:
A=Biodegradable-The biodegradable wastes are those that can be decomposed. For example, kitchen wastes, animal dung, etc.
B=Non-biodegradable-The non-biodegradable wastes are those that cannot be decomposed and remain as such in the environment. For example, plastics, nuclear wastes, glass, etc.
Over grazing is one of the main issues in rural areas as raising cattle and other domestic animals have contributed to livelihood of many people. Usually people in rural areas have access to all sorts of facilities but keep animals at the backyard of our homes is very natural. These habits of keeping animals have resulted in plant material faster than it naturally grows. This had lead permanent loss of plant cover.
Poaching has been practiced a long time back during the times of my grandparents and still this modern day such act lives alive. It is a fast way to earn lump sum amount and since most of people in rural areas are uneducated, they do not know the consequences of such practices. So many wild animals have been killed mainly to export their skin and bones which fetch high prize in the market. Stories of killing endangered species such as tigers, leopards had been recorded. Example: people in my village have killed two bears, a tiger and a wild boar for the reason associated with destruction of their crops and domestic animals.
SOLUTIONS TO COMBAT THOSE ISSUES
The mother earth is so kind. We are gifted with every necessity. For economic growth, different countries set up factories and technology which caused great deal of pollution. The rapidly changing world has many environmental issues to be combated. To do so, some solutions are laid below.
People should be showed with the knowledge of converting a bare agricultural space by planting trees for their own good. For every one tree they cut, two trees should be planted. Farmers should be taught the right ways to plant trees. Planting trees around homes will be good for self. Planting trees are healthy activities as it will conserve soil, water and air pollution. It will create conditions more conducive to flora and fauna. Then our country look so beautiful and peaceful with all different kinds of trees ,flowers, wild animals,etc.and it will lead to increase in income or revenue for the economy for the economy as many tourists will visit our country. So it should be encouraged in the urban as well as in rural.
Control of water pollution is mainly by sewage treatment, effluent treatment and public awareness by not letting them to dump sewage or garbage into the river and air pollution can be controlled by reducing number of factories, industries and vechiles.Air pollution can be controlled by methods depending on the source and the pollutant. Some of the methods used are good quality fuel, vehicles running on alternate sources of energy and using solar cookers or bio gas, planting of trees that remove the pollutinggases and clean the atmosphere and creating public awareness about the effects of air pollution.
Soil or land conservation is of the important environmental problems in Bhutan that should be looked upon. People should be discouraged from using chemical fertilizers. Instead they can be inspired to use natural fertilizers. Use of heavy equipments can be also discouraged, so that soil retains its fertility as shown in figure 1.3and 1.4
Left: Soil conservation.Right:Soil erosion.
Poaching can be stopped by not demanding poached goods. Local leaders can be involved with programs that support and conserve animals. Boundaries should be identified to build parks for those animals so, that species are free from man. Local leaders take the initiatives or measures to protect animals that fall under endangered species.
Migration from rural to urban areas can be controlled and solved by developing and bringing changes in rural areas. Government should provide better facilities such as health, education, safe drinking water and on top of that by providing job opportunities thus removing poverty, inequality and unemployment. Then people in rural areas will not migrate to urban areas.
Waste management can be controlled by disposing in right disposal areas and places. It can be controlled by collecting or storing waste and transporting them for recycle. It can be controlled by showing different programs like malaria, skin diseases, water borne diseases etc.So that people will aware of those diseases and they will not throw their wastes where ever they like.
The main strategy of Nature Conservation Division is to conserve ecosystem but the people and its socio economic development is equally important. People of Bhutan have been interacting with nature for many years and is viewed important to respect their right and aspirations. However for any major development interventation, the effect on biodiversity and protected areas should be carefully assessed. Therefore all development projects within the protected areas buffers on and biological corridor should be given higher priority for environment impact assessment, as is introduced by National Environmental Conservation.
Adaption management is more focus on flexibility of plans to adjust to changing circumstances and insights. It is usually based on circular management process and allows the information about the past and to improve the management in the future .This kind of approach is favorable due to complex ecosystem and their interaction with the people for its uncertainty .The strategic plans of Nature Conservation Division is not fixed rather dynamic to meet the new opportunities and immediate needs, for flexible budgeting and rapid disburse not procedure.
Almost all the protected areas in Bhutan are inhibited by people. The NCDs (Nature Conservation Divisions) strategy to pressure the environment is through involvement of different sectors of government and particularly the local people .Local knowledge and tradition is very important tool to tackle the forces that destroy the environment.
Since the beginning of development planning in the 1960s, Bhutan has placed environmental conservation as the main concern while developing policies for socio-economic development (RGoB, 2002; Wangchuk, 2006). The Forest and Nature Conservation Act of Bhutan 1995 has given more importance in the active involvement of rural communities in forestry activities. It brought about major changes in forest management by paving the way for community and private forestry (CF, PF) for the benefit of rural communities.
The community forest was established in Bhutan initially to conserve the environment as government realized the importance of local participation in the conservation. (Chhetri, Schmidt & Gilmour, 2009). Before the introduction of community forest in Bhutan, people were not concerned and responsible about the forest and the natural resources it provided. As the development taking place rapidly in the country, there was growing pressure on the natural environment because of increase in demand of raw materials for construction especially wood beside stone, sand and other natural resources.
There was support and cooperation from local people and became latter as effective poverty reduction methods. The people at the local level benefited from the ecosystem goods as they could not only consume for themselves but also could sell and earn income as a result they realize the importance of preservation of it. Therefore, community forest became popular and spread to all parts of the country. When the forest was a national property, people were not concerned and everybody wanted to extract as much benefit as they could without eco-friendly methods but when the forest was converted into community forest thereby entrusting responsibility and authority to people themselves, people began to know its benefits and started conserving it and now its successfully working in Bhutan. Example: Tshaphel community forest in Haa had ever harvested even a single timber from their community forest, in October 2011, they sold 3068.86cft of timber to the sawmill owners in Haa and earned a total sum of Nu.361, 731.43. The 33 households of the village earned a net profit of Nu.116, 796.92(Namgyal, Jan 11 2012).
National Environmental Protection of Bhutan was launched in 2007 as environment has always been at the center of development concept in Bhutan. As we all know that environmental protection is one of the key pillars of Gross National Happiness. Poaching and hunting was prohibited and now people have minimized poaching and hunting. The forest official should submit their annual report to the department of forest. Illegal cutting of trees is prohibited and therefore charged higher than government penalties.
Comparison of environment between India and Bhutan.
The total population of Bhutan was 725940.00 in 2010 and 2011(The world bank) where as in India it was estimated 1.21 billion in April 1st, 2011.Due to more population in India the number of vehicles are increasing which lead to more pollution such as air, noise and water pollution and there are more waste compared to Bhutan. In India people are cutting down too many trees in order to establish an industries and factories which lead to deforestation and pollution. As a result they have no fresh water to drink and fresh air to breath. In Bhutan people are more into conservation and protection of the forest. Almost 69.1% of Bhutan is covered with forest (U.N.FAO) where as in India forest coverage is very less.
Today, with increased in modern facilities has highly degraded the pristine environment. Sea levels have risen, temperature is increasing and we do not get fresh water to drink. Air around are not safe to breath and there are so many issues that has made our mother earth irresistible. Global warming is the biggest concern. We are destroying homes for the animals. It is seen and heard that our mother is very dirty. We cannot be so harsh on our mother earth. We are being so unkind and doing nothing for our future generation. Nothing is impossible Yes we can do it. We can protect and preserve our environment. It is time that we join our hands and combats all the environmental issues such as deforestation, forest fire, global warming, waste management, pollution, over grazing, poaching, etc.