Bhutan: In order to keep an accurate track of the land under forest cover, the Bhutanese Government is all set to tread the GIS path. “We need to identify an agency that would use technical support like computer system and geographic information system (GIS) to analyse accurate percentage,” opined a Land Commission official.
Until a few years ago Bhutan boasted of having more than 72.5 percent of its land under forest cover. However, in 2005, the Forestry Department revealed that the figure dropped to 64.35 percent.
Land Commission officials have stated that although the country’s supreme law mandated its people to maintain 60 percent forest cover for all times to come, the country lacked accurate information on the current cover. Therefore, in their draft land policy, they have proposed an agency specifically responsible for stringently protecting, monitoring and maintaining the 60 percent forest cover.
Meanwhile, the Forestry Department is planning a National Forest Inventory (NFI) project, which will help in capturing comprehensive data on forest and its resources. “It will give accurate information on forest-covered land, species, herbs, wildlife, shrubs, barren land and different information related to forest,” Forestry officials said.
Chief Forestry Officer Kinley Tshering said they would measure more than 26,000 plots across the country, divide them into grids and using GIS, the inventory will identify the exact forest coverage. The pilot project was carried out in Toebesa, Punakha, last year to determine the project’s feasibility, which proved successful. “We’ll use GIS, remote sensing and satellite images before we actually implement NFI. We hope to do that within the next six years,” he said.
Source: Kuensel Online