Sections – Social Forestry and Extension Division

Agroforestry Section

Agroforestry systems are multifunctional systems that can provide a wide range of economic, sociocultural and environmental benefits. It is particularly important for Bhutanese farmers because it generates diverse products and services on a small land holding and it can also create opportunities for small-scale forest-based enterprises.

Agroforestry can help achieve food security in the country. In the context of climate change, agroforestry practices as a land use option can help build resilience of small scale farming communities in Bhutan. Agroforestry practices can reduce the risk of economic failure by increasing the diversity of production within a farming system. Agroforestry technologies can also be uses as soil and water conservation interventions in watershed management, reduce Human Wildlife Conflict and help alleviate rural poverty by improving household income through increased on-farm production and employment opportunities.

The Agroforestry program will provide the necessary strategic directives and road map for agroforestry practices in the country. The agency is responsible to lead in developing policies relevant to agroforestry and provide technical guidelines to field offices and private proponents to establish agroforestry systems in their private land or state reserve land. It is also the lead coordinating agency for agroforestry practices in the country, responsible for collaborating with national and international agroforestry network and to build capacity in agroforestry in the country.

Mandates

  • Formulate and revise policies related to agroforestry
  • Develop strategies, framework and guidelines for agroforestry practices in the country
  • Technically backstop the planning and implementation of agroforestry sites
  • Facilitate and strengthen the capacity of the communities to sustainably manage forest resources by promoting participatory forest management and good governance
  • Facilitate and provide efficient and effective service delivery
  • Plan and implement education and communication programs to raise awareness on agroforestry
  • Build networks and coordinate among different stakeholders
  • Plan and organize workshops, seminar and conferences relevant to agroforestry
  • Develop proposals and programs relevant to agroforestry
  • Compile and maintain information on agroforestry
  • Monitor and evaluate the agroforestry programs and projects
  • Represent the Department at national and international forum(s) related to agroforestry
  • Plan and organize workshops, seminar and conferences relevant to agroforestry

 Community Forestry Section

Recognizing the importance of rural communities in the sustainable management of forests, Community Forestry first started in Bhutan in the early 1990s. However, only in 1997, the first Community Forest (CF) in Dozam, Tashigang (Eastern Bhutan) was approved and handed over to the Community Forest Management Group (CFMG) for management.

Today the program is one of the major community based sustainable forest management initiative in the country. Initially communities were adamant and believed that natural resources were inexhaustible and needed no protection or management. Over the years, the Department has put in a lot of effort to create awareness, educate and win the confidence of the people to establish community forests. Many communities are now coming forward with proposals to manage the Government Reserve Forests near their villages.

The Community Forestry program is the lead agency that provides the strategic directives and facilitates the establishment of community forests in the country. As of 30 April 2020, there are 809 CFs involving 33,500 rural households as CF members. In total, 100,000 hectares of State Reserve Forest land is managed as CFs in the country.

 Mandates

  • Formulate and revise policies related to community forests
  • Develop strategies, framework and guidelines for community forests
  • Technically backstop the planning and implementation of community forests
  • Facilitate and strengthen the capacity of the communities to sustainably manage forests by promoting participatory forest management and good governance
  • Facilitate and provide efficient and effective service delivery
  • Review community forest and private forest management plans and facilitate for approval
  • Plan and implement education and communication programs to raise the awareness on community forests
  • Facilitate the celebration of Social Forestry Day on 2nd June
  • Plan and organize workshops, seminar and conferences relevant to community forestry
  • Develop proposals and programs relevant to community forests
  • Compile and maintain information on community forests
  • Monitor and evaluate the community forestry programs and projects
  • Represent the Department at national and international forum(s) related to community forestry

 NWFP Section

Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFPs) play an important role in the daily lives and overall well-being of the Bhutanese people. Specifically for the rural farming community, it provides off-farm income, food, medicine, aromatic products, fodder, fibre, and also local construction materials. NWFPs are a safety net for marginalised communities during scarce seasons and help achieve food security.

The NWFP Section is responsible for leading the NWFP programme in Bhutan. The Section is responsible to: facilitate the approval of NWFP Management and Marketing Groups; initiate and support NWFP based enterprises in rural Bhutan; facilitate domestication & cultivation of NWFPs to support entrepreneurs; provide trainings on sustainable NWFP harvesting, management & product development; and, process applications from private NWFP entrepreneurs. The Section also provides the harvesting and resource assessment guidelines for NWFPs in the country.

Mandates

  • Formulate and revise policies related to NWFP
  • Develop strategies, framework and guidelines relevant to NWFP
  • Prioritize NWFP and promote sustainable management of the resource
  • Technically backstop NWFP development activities in the country
  • Promote NWFP development activities in CFs
  • Facilitate and strengthen the capacity of the communities to sustainably manage forest resources by promoting participatory forest management and good governance
  • Facilitate and provide efficient and effective service delivery within the turnaround time specified for forestry clearances
  • Plan and organize workshops, seminar and conferences relevant to NWFP
  • Develop proposals and programs relevant to NWFP
  • Compile and maintain information on NWFP in the country
  • Monitor and evaluate the NWFP programs and projects
  • Review NWFP management plans and facilitate the approval of the plan
  • Enhance cooperation and coordination among NWFP stakeholders
  • Identifying the existing potential threats and opportunities of NWFPs in Bhutan and provide the necessary technical guidance

Plantation Section

Since the establishment of the Department of Forests in 1952, the plantation program has been a priority program and over the years, it has been given various different names. The plantation program is one of the major programs of the Department that directly help achieve the Constitutional requirement of maintaining “a minimum of 60% of the total land under forest cover for all times to come.” The requirement was first mentioned in the 1974 Forest Policy, which set the framework for scientific management of Bhutan’s forests. Plantation is the only direct means to re-coupe barren, degraded, fire burnt and harvested forests.

Plantation plays a crucial role in the sustainable management of forest resources, by maintaining the ecological balance in the watersheds. A healthy watershed provides ecosystem services and contributes to rural livelihoods through employment opportunities. In 1974, plantation on barren, degraded and deforested areas through community participation was initiated and is still continued to this day. Ever since the establishment of the annual 2nd June plantation, whereby schools, public, private and government institutions has been involved in carrying out plantation on that day, it has remained the most significant annual activity of the Department.

Never-the less, in the recent years, more ad-hoc plantations have been initiated through public participation. Mass plantations carried for different occasions have gained publicity in the country.  In the recent years Bhutan won the Guinness World Record for Plantation by 100 Men at Kuenselphodrang, Thimphu.  And a Women Plantation Competition at Takila, Lhuntse, followed though. Tendrel plantations and Desuups plantation are some other mass plantations that have been gaining momentum in the country.

Today, there demand for forest resources is very high, as development activities in the country has accelerated in the recent years. To manage the demand for forest resources such as timber, it is very important to manage our forests sustainably. Considering the high timber requirement for Dzong renovation and reconstruction, one of the major activities for the program has been to facilitate the establishment of plantation forest for Dzong reconstruction in the 20 Dongkhags.

The Plantation Section is the lead agency on plantation in the country. Apart form providing the technical guidance and support in nursery raising and plantation, the agency plans and facilitates all plantations in the country.

Mandates

  • Formulate and revise policies related to plantation in the country
  • Develop strategies, framework, guidelines, norms and standards for the plantation program
  • Technically backstop the planning and implementation of plantation in the country including nursery development and plantation techniques
  • Identify suitable indigenous and exotic species for plantation that aid in soil and conservation
  • Facilitate community participation in plantation programs
  • Facilitate and provide efficient and effective service delivery within the turnaround time specified for forestry clearances
  • Plan and organize workshops, seminar and conferences relevant to plantation
  • Develop proposals and programs relevant to nursery development and plantation in the country
  • Compile and maintain information on plantation in the country
  • Monitor and evaluate the plantation programs and projects
  • Review management plans relevant to plantation and facilitate the approval of the plan
  • Represent the Department at national and international forum(s) related to the plantation

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