Bhutan: Deforestation and Wildlife Extinction
Considered to be located "on the roof of the world," Bhutan is a mountainous and sparsely populated region that is classified as one of the least developed countries on earth. Bhutanese people have survived many generations, isolated from outside influences which have hindered their technological advancements. However, this isolation has enabled them to maintain strong cultural ties. Nestled in the Himalayan Mountain range with up-and-coming world power neighbors like China and India, the government of Bhutan realizes that they are at a pivotal point in their history. Now is the time to advance to be on par with the rest of the world or at least with their neighbors to the north and south. However, a struggle lies ahead with regards to "How can Bhutan prosper as a nation that provides valuable exports with other nations without falling victimizing its people and its culture through capitalism and consumerism, all while maintaining a mutually beneficial balance with nature and their delicate ecosystem?" The following paper will address potential and on-going issues that Bhutan will face as it confronts the 21st Century and globalization. One issue is the cause and effect of deforestation in this region, with a glimpse of how the threat of global warming even reaches this isolate nation. The second issue addressed is the necessity to preserve their wildlife which is an interval part of their ecosystem. Though these two issues are approached and resolved in different manners, it is not hard to see how these two are connected. Deforestation
Approximately 64.2% of Bhutan is still under forest cover (Statistics, 2007); however, the potential for exploitation of this resource is imminent as Bhutan's urban area expand and rural areas advance through the creation of roads for trade routes within their borders and to surrounding countries. Currently, the majority of the country's forests are protected through government programs like Royal Manas National Park making infrastructure advancement somewhat difficult. These programs enacted to protect Bhutan from commercial exploitation and maintain the balance being Bhutan culture and advancement. They are championed primarily by the citizens of Bhutan with input and guidance from global organizations such as UNICEF. The presence of these programs does not mean that the forests are safe. The current global warming issue that looms over the entire world affects Bhutan in ways unlike most other nations. According to the United Nations (UN), the Kyoto Protocol is designed to help in the "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system" (Kyoto Protocol, 1998). Plainly put, the UN is requiring countries to monitor and cut back carbon emissions, the leading cause of green house gases. Countries will be allowed to offset their carbon emmissions through carbon trading with countries that are below their required emmissions mark. If the Kyoto Protocol were in acted, Bhutan would be at a disadvantage in successfully protecting their forests from their exploitation for economic gain. According to a report published by the journal Public Library of Science Biology on August 13, 2007, low deforestation countries like current-day Bhutan will see the least benefit from carbon trading (Gustavo, 2007). The design of the Kyoto Protocol was purposed to avoid deforestation of areas where it currently runs rampant and compensate these countries for reducing their deforestation rates which in turn reduces green house gas emissions. Compensation is currently assessed based on historical data on deforestation rates. Those countries that currently do not have a deforestation issue are to gain huge incentives from ramping up their deforestation until they achieve the highest value from their carbon credits. When coupled...
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