Up scaling of Payment for Environmental Service Scheme in Tsirang Dzongkhag

In Bhutan, a number of Payment for Environmental Service (PES) scheme types, currently functioning have the potential to be scaled up in other parts of the country taking into account, lessons and experiences generated today in the country. A comprehensive of these mechanisms will be valuable for scaling up, and could also be offered as models that could potentially, be replicated in the districts. This would contribute to responding to challenges, with synergizing rapid socio-economic development, with the Governments conservation efforts to uphold the constitutional mandate, of maintaining 60 percent of land under forests cover forever.

Bhutan has one of the highest per capita water availability in the region. However, with growth in population, rapid socio-economic development, and impact of climate change, the protection of watershed and riverine ecosystems has become an urgent and important issue. Considering the water crisis in Tsirang, there is an urgent need to protect and manage watersheds, for the benefit of our future generations. At present, the overall management of the water resources is poor, and it is timely that the Government agencies and communities’ partnership, to explore various approaches for the effective management of watershed. Without human intervention, the water crisis can threaten the balance of ecosystem goods and services. The communities believe that, such an undertaking would be one viable option, to help prevent water related problems, with the increasing population and development in future.

The Divisional Forest Office (DFO) Tsirang, began planning for PES scheme on 18th August 2017 and it became fully operationalized on 22nd July 2019. Recognizing the importance of forests in providing goods and services, an agreement was signed between downstream Environmental service (ES) users (Damphu Town residents – 6000) and upstream communities, ES providers (Thakorling Community Forest Management Group (CFMG) and Khuchi-Darachhu CFMG) for voluntary service use fee payment to protect, manage and conserve forests under the ecosystem services. The verification team comprising of DFO, Dzongkhag, ES users and ES providers verified and evaluated all the activities on 11 June 2020 and found that, the activities were implemented up to the mark. The agreed activities were successfully completed. A sum of Nu.3.11 per month/meter holder was collected by Municipal Authority, from the monthly water bill and the first payment was released on 22 June 2020. Thus a sum of Nu.168, 000.00 has been released to Thakorling CFMG (Primary provider) and Nu.56, 000.00 to Kuchi Darachhu CFMG (Secondary provider) by Tsirang Dzongkhag Municipality. These cash incentive will be deposited in their respective PES accounts and shall be used for the protection of watershed in particular for the benefit of all.

Submitted by Gem Tshering, Tsirang Forest Division

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