An opinion by a student in Bhutan
Just a few decades ago when I was a child of around 4 or 5 years, I used to see lush green paddy fields around me at Wangduephodrang valley, with beautiful scene and clean air. During those days the gushing wind of Wangdue were joyful. Animals used to graze happily in the paddy fields while the flowing Puna Tsang Chhu river waved at us and continued down the valley to join the mighty Brahmaputra. I still remember wild berries growing near my house and mushrooms abundantly found in the forests nearby. Me and my friends used to play in the barren fields during our winter vacations. The green paddy field welcomed outsiders with the smiles and gestures of positive warmth. Then the air used to be mild during the summer maintaining the temperature in the valley.
Today I stand at this same valley, being 14 years of age and I see Wangdue very differently, be it environmentally and in terms of development. The once much-seen green fields are turned to barren land on which Bajo town is built. The population of people has grown a lot due to the nearby hydro-project. The very green fields which were once the home for paddy, birds, animals, and plants, are sold and bought by people to build houses. The larger population has contributed to the change of environment and climatic conditions. Today once grown plants like wild berries, sunflower, etc.…and mostly seen birds like hoopoe, white bellied heron, mynas can be hardly seen in Wangdue.
According to some studies it shows that in recent years, Bhutan, like other Himalayan areas, has seen an increase in landslides due to heavier rains, and some glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) as glaciers retreat. The GLOF threat is apparently Bhutan’s strongest climate change challenge so far. Bhutan’s 24 weather stations show a rise in temperature of about 1 degree Celsius in summer to 2 degree Celsius in winter since 2000. (1)
The greatest threat of the climate change is the rise of temperature which can have a major threat to the nature and environment affecting every one of us. Recently comparing to the past few years I have also personally experienced the rise in temperature as it is a bit hotter in Wangduephodrang too, just like in other parts of the country.
For example, in the last few years when I slept at home during summer I never used fan or cooling appliance. But nowadays I have to use it as I can’t bear the heat during the night. Other examples are, plants are drying up due to the less water as most of the water sources and streams that I found are either dying up or have lesser supply of water.
Similarly, in the past winters I used to make ice cream and eat after keeping sugar-water to freeze outside at night. But I hardly see frost in Wangdue valley (Bajothang) where I reside.
The forest above the town is also becoming thinner and thinner every day due to human coming in conflict with the environment. Trees are being cut down each time due to rising number of population and it takes longer time to grow back due to rise in temperature, lesser water and untimely rainfall.
In 2018 many villagers even didn’t cultivate paddy due to the lack of water and rainfall. If the temperature goes on rising, we might face a situation whereby Wangdue once full of rice production would fail to produce rice for itself .
Degradation of forest is main reasons for the rise in temperature. Due to a greater number of people the pressure is given to the forest to quench the thirst of our wants. Cutting trees doesn’t seem anything to the people. Forest plays a very important role to take in carbons so that it doesn’t form blanket and allow direct rays of the sun to touch the earth and at the same time trap it. Due to the lack of waste management and people using more of electronic goods the release of CFC and Carbon dioxide has increased to a level which has caused global warming. If water goes on dying up then the drought combined with lightning may cause forest fire further reducing the forest coverage.
Some of the Climate change vulnerabilities include:
- Possible loss of endemic plant and animal species;
- Change in migratory pattern of wildlife, which may result in loss/degradation of forest ecosystems and reduction of alpine range lands; and
- Possible increase in vector-borne disease in wildlife due to warming. (2)
As a youth, leader and citizen of tomorrow we seek the intervention of every stakeholder to help in sustaining the forest and to stop global warming to let us live in peace and harmony with the earth. The following measures can be adapted to reduce the rise of temperature;
- Government investing in protection of forest for the cost of future with developing very good climate change policies.
- Educating people on waste management and coming up with more strict laws and rules on waste management.
- Increasing taxes on the electronic goods which produce CFC and bringing in more environmentally friendly goods.
- Having strict rules and regulations on the cutting of trees for any purposes
- Observing more numbers of days to plant trees rather than just 2nd June every year.
- Coming up with more motivational packages like award and reward to let people plant trees. Eg. Making villages and districts compete among themselves on preservation of forest
- Creating more community forest to let people take care of their own forest and trees.
- Planting more trees in the already existing forest for sustainability.
Therefore, I as a youth would like to request my elders to kindly help in protecting our trees and forest for the future to stop rise in temperature and global warming. If we do not plant trees and go on cutting it then we may fail to protect this earth from different natural hazards. Let’s act faster and protect our forest for the betterment of future.
Written by Thinley Jamtsho, an VIIIth standard student of Bajo Higher Secondary School in Wangduephodrang, as part of the Preliminary Assignment for WSSC 2019.
This Article is shared by ENO Bhutan Country Coordinator