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Bhutan Forest Figures

Forest Cover
Total forest area: 3,195,000 ha
% of land area: 68%

Primary forest cover: 413,000 ha
% of land area: 8.8%
% total forest area: 12.9%

Deforestation Rates, 2000-2005
Annual change in forest cover: 10,800 ha
Annual reforestation rate: 0.3%
Change in defor. rate since '90s: -1.6%
Total forest loss since 1990: 160,000 ha
Total forest loss since 1990:5.3%

Primary or "Old-growth" forests
Annual loss of primary forests: n/a
Annual deforestation rate: n/a
Change in deforestation rate since '90s: n/a
Primary forest loss since 1990: n/a
Primary forest loss since 1990:0.0%

Forest Classification
Public: 100%
Private: n/a
Other: n/a
Production: 15.9%
Protection: 45.8%
Conservation: 27.2%
Social services: n/a
Multiple purpose: n/a
None or unknown: 11.1

Forest Area Breakdown
Total area: 3,195,000 ha
Primary: 413,000 ha
Modified natural: 2,529,000 ha
Semi-natural: 251,000 ha
Production plantation: 2,000 ha
Production plantation: n/a

Plantations, 2005: 2,000 ha
% of total forest cover: 0.1%
Annual change rate (00-05): 200,000 ha

Carbon storage
Above-ground biomass: 503 M t
Below-ground biomass: 187 M t

Area annually affected by
Fire: 8,000 ha
Insects: n/a
Diseases: n/a

Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Number of native tree species: 105
Critically endangered: 1
Endangered: 2
Vulnerable: 4

Wood removal 2005
Industrial roundwood: 207,000 m3 o.b.
Wood fuel: 70,000 m3 o.b.

Value of forest products, 2005
Industrial roundwood: $6,383,000
Wood fuel: $21,000
Non-wood forest products (NWFPs): $27,000
Total Value: $6,431,000

More forest statistics for Bhutan

The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is home to between 900,000 and 2,100,000 people (depending on whom you ask) who are among the poorest in Asia. About 80 percent of the country's population is sustained by subsistence agriculture, while Bhutan's main export is electricity (to India). Bhutan is increasingly relying on high-end tourism for bringing in revenue (visitors are charged a minimum of $200 a day, which is shared between the government and private travel companies). Currently less than 10,000 visit Bhutan each year, although there is no longer a cap on the number of foreigners allowed to visit the country.

Its low population and lack of arable land (estimated at 4-16 percent of the country) mean that Bhutan has a relatively intact environment. Around 70 percent of the country is forested and Conservation International lists it as one of the world's biological hotspots. However, with rising lumber prices, there is concern that its forests will face increasing pressure. Additionally, a significant proportion of the population relies on forests for fuelwood collection and construction material, so as the country grows so will the impact on the Bhutan's environment. Realizing that there could be problems in the future, the government passed a law requiring that 60 percent of the country remain forested in perpetuity.

The royal government of Bhutan has a tight grip over its citizens and in late 2004 Bhutan became the first country to ban tobacco. The government sets rules on what people can wear in certain places; a long shawl, for example, must be worn when visiting government offices or temples.

Further threats to Bhutan's national forests come from livestock grazing, road-building, and subsistence agriculture.

Oddly, in the eastern part of the country Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary protects 650 sq km of temperate forests, mostly pine and rhododendron. The park was established specifically to protect the presumed habitat of the yeti, better known as "Bigfoot" or "Sasquatch" in other parts of the world. Overall more than 30 percent of Bhutan is officially protected. The country is home to 5,468 species of plants, 625 birds, 2 amphibians, 92 reptiles, and 29 species of mammals—although the jury is still out on the existence of the yeti.

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Last updated: 4 Feb 2006