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Title of best practice:
Clarify if the technology described in the template, or a part of it, is covered by property rights:
Please provide relevant information on the holder of the rights:
The best practice proposed here is plantations; which covers wide spectrum of activities such as plantation of trees, bamboo and banana rhizomes, live cuttings and even the horticultural tree crops [in the form of orchard setting].
There are three scenarios: 1) The activity takes place in the government reserve forest land, where there is no property right to the farmers and community, 2) When the technology is placed in the private land, then the ownership is bestowed to the concerned farmer, and finally 3) If the activities take place in the communal land, then, in this case, it is under the rights of the community. |
Section 1. Context of the best practice: frame conditions (natural and human environment)
Short description of the best practice
This technology, so called “plantation” refers to wide range of activities such as plantation of: shrubs and trees, woody live cuttings, bamboo and banana rhizomes, horticultural tree crops.
Generally, this technique is introduced in various places, including individual farmer’s land, communal areas and in the degraded government lands. On proper establishment, the plantations intercept rain falling directly on the soil surface, thereby permitting greater water infiltration into the soil. In the process, this reduces surface soil erosion. On the other hand, as the plants grow, they create a dense network of roots in the soil, which binds the soil aggregates together. As a result, the tree root network systems provide certain engineering functions such as anchor and support to the slope.
Since there are wide ranges of activities under the umbrella of this technology, each activity requires different methodology for establishment, depending on the type of the activity. For instance, shrubs and tree species are planted almost on any slope up to 30° and even on more on steeper areas with care. On the other hand, horticultural tree crops require to follow more established methodology.
3) Chhukha District: Phuntsholing, Bongo and Logchina Gewogs.|
Brief description of the natural environment within the specified location.
1) Radhi: Sub-tropical - warm temperate climatic conditions (CC), Lumang: Sub-tropical – cool temperate, Thrimshing: Humid tropical – cold temperate.
2) Nangkhor: Sub-tropical to - cool temperate, Bardo: Wet tropical – cold temperate, Goshing: Wet tropical – warm temperate.
3) Phuntsholing: Sub-tropical with very high rainfall averaging about 4,500 mm annually, Bongo: Wet tropical – sub alpine, Logchina: Wet tropical – warm temperate climatic conditions.
1) Radhi: altitude ranges from 1040 m above sea level (asl) to 2900 m asl, Lumang: 1100 m to 3000 m asl, Thrimshing: 1000 m to 3200 m asl.
2) Nangkhor: 280 m to 4600 m asl, Bardo: 200 m to 3300 m asl, Goshing: 200 m to 2400 m asl.
3) Phuntsholing: 180 m to 2400 m asl, Bongo: 200 m to 3900 m asl, Logchina: 500 m to 2500 m asl.
Because the landform in Bhutan is characterised by steep to very steep slopes incised by deep valleys, the slopes vary considerably in the reported areas.
Radhi: Deep yellowish-reddish brown (rbr) sandy clay loam (SCL), Lumang: Mod deep-deep dark grayish brown (dgbr) to brown sandy loam (SL) to silty clay loam (ZiCL), Thrimshing: Mod deep-deep dgbr to brown ZiCL.
Nangkhor: Shallow-mod deep dgbr SL, Bardo: Shallow-deep v.dgbr to yellowish brown (ybr) SL to ZiL, Goshing: Mod deep-deep gdbr to ybr ZiL to ZiCL.
P/ling: Mod shallow-deep gbr ZiL to ZiCL, Bongo: Shallow-deep v.dgbr to ybr ZiLto ZiCL, Logchina: Shallow-mod deep dgbr to ybr SL to SCL.
Prevailing socio-economic conditions of those living in the location and/or nearby
Land in the reported areas are privately owned by the farmers and it ranges from parcel size of minimum less than 1 acre (small fraction of the population) to maximum of 10 acres. The average land holding is about 2.5 acres.
The main livelihood source of the rural communities of these areas is crop agriculture with supplementary livelihood from livestock production. Besides, farmers also earn cash income from off-farm activities such as construction industry. Unlike in other reported areas, farmers in Logchina practice apiculture out of which they generate good income.|
Amongst the reported gewogs, Bardo and Goshing Gewogs of Zhemgang Dzongkhag and Bongo and Logchina Gewogs of Chhukha Dzongkhag, are comparatively remote with poor accessibility to road networks. Generally, other areas do have good access to road and other public facilities. Furthermore, most of the farmers are self sufficient too.|
On the basis of which criteria and/or indicator(s) (not related to The Strategy) the proposed practice and corresponding technology has been considered as 'best'?
There are two areas in which this technology is efficient in curtailing land degradation.
Firstly, once the technology is in place, the canopy of the trees intercept the rain from directly hitting the degraded land surfaces. In the process, the water infiltration into the soil is increased. The end result is that all these contribute to reduction in the surface soil erosion.
Secondly, the placement of this technology also creates a barrier against the degradation process taking place on the upper slopes, such as gullies and landslides. But for this to happen, the plantation should be well established in the area. |
Section 2. Problems addressed (direct and indirect causes) and objectives of the best practice
Main problems addressed by the best practice
1) Surface soil erosion,
2) Shortage of fodder for the livestock animals,
3) Moisture stress problems through retention of soil water, and
4) Slope stabilization.|
Outline specific land degradation problems addressed by the best practice
The best practice which is discussed here is found to be very efficient in addressing the surface erosion generated by runoff from up-slope or from within the area. The technique also works adequately in reducing the impacts of other physical land degradation processes such as gullys and landslides, since it forms a strong barrier against the degradation processes.
Introducing this technology in the degraded areas in the private, communal and government land helps reclaim the land which provided limited functions.|
Specify the objectives of the best practice
There are three main objectives: 1) To reduce the surface erosion and contain sediments which is generated from the upper slopes or from within the activity area, 2) To reduce the impacts of other land degradation processes such as gullies and landslides on-site and further down the catchment, and 3) To protect the slope and also to reclaim the once-degraded land.|
Section 3. Activities
Brief description of main activities, by objective
Promotion of SLM Adoption: Farmers don't accept the introduction of new technology in their fields willingly. In order to get fairly easy access and placement of technology, provision of incentives such as supply of tools and free planting materials have become necessary. However, this has to be prioritized for those trained farmers who belong to poor households. |
Education and Awareness Raising: Demonstration plots have also been established to raise awareness and at the same time educate stakeholders such as extension agents and farmers; both local and regional.
Capacity Building: Training of extension agents and farmers on various plantation activities. During the training, the extension agents and farmers have been educated on the multiple functions provided by the activities, its management once the activities are iin place and also on the method of sustainable harvesting.|
Short description and technical specifications of the technology
1) Shrubs and Trees: These are are planted at regular intervals on the slopes up to 30°, and even on greater slopes with care. The plant to plant (P-P) spacing is important. The forestry plantations maintain distance of 2.5 x 2.5m, but for conservation purposes, this is shortened to 1x1 m, requiring 10,000 P/ha, to make it more efficient. Plants are generally planted in offset rows. The site preparation requires removing the debris and weeds and levelling the ground surface. Then plantation pits; 30 cm deep & 30 cm diameter, are dug. When the ground is wet enough to support the growth, poly pots are removed and seedlings are planted in the pit, filling the soil carefully around the cylinder of roots. After this, handful of well-rotted compost is applied and mixed to accelerate growth. After back filling, the soil is made firm to remove any cavities. Mulching material is applied on the surface; a small distance away from the stem. This is done mainly to prevent splash erosion, conserve moisture and promote growth. Frequent weeding is done in the aftermath.
2) Bamboo rhizomes: Establishment of bamboo reduces movement of materials and stabilises slopes. There are two plantation methods: traditional method (rooted shoot from parent clump), to plant rooted culm cutting from a nursery. The former is the preferred method and found to be more effective and efficient. Description below pertains to the latter.
Plantation is done in the depositional zone of the degraded sites where the slope is less than 30°, preferable in staggered position at minimum of 2 x2 m between P-P and 5 m up and down the slope. To prepare for plantation, firstly, the loose debris is removed from the ground surface and sizable pit is dug in advance. Suitable culm is selected from edge of the parent clump, and cut out the rhizome carefully. Cut off the culm at about 2 m above ground level. Cut the rhizomes from the main plant, taking care not to damage the buds and roots. Wrap the root in a damp gunny bag and carry it to the plantation site. Dig pits, at least 5 times the size of the rhizomes and plant it either upright or right angles to the slope. Carefully backfill the pit and make the soil firm. Then make a depression around the culm as water collection area, and water it thoroughly. Apply mulching and restrict movement of livestock animals in the areas.
NOTE: Due to character limitations in the template, technical specification of only 2 activity could be done.|
Section 4. Institutions/actors involved (collaboration, participation, role of stakeholders)
Name and address of the institution developing the technology
National Soil Services Centre, Department of Agriculture (Minsitry of Agriculture and Forests)|Post Box No. 907, Semtokha, Thimphu, Bhutan
Was the technology developed in partnership?
Specify the framework within which the technology was promoted
- Local initiative
- National initiative – government-led
- Programme/project-based initiative
Was the participation of local stakeholders, including CSOs, fostered in the development of the technology?
List local stakeholders involved:
Local stakeholders include the local communities, the Gewog Renewable Natural Resource (RNR) extension agents and RNR staff from Dzongkhags (including Agriculture, Livestock and Forestry sectors) and local government.|
For the stakeholders listed above, specify their role in the design, introduction, use and maintenance of the technology, if any.
1) Local communities: They are the target beneficiaries. Their main roles include participation in the training, adopt and promulgate the best practices and provide feedback for further improvement of the technology,
2) The Gewog RNR extension agents: They perform vital functions such as providing hands on training, providing technical backstopping and also monitoring the implementation of the best practices by the farmers,
3) Dzongkhag RNR sectors: They prepare Sustainable Land Management (SLM) plans, mobilize resources and provide technical back stopping to the field staff. They act as a bridge between the Central Government Institutions and the field extension agents,
4) Members of the local government: They facilitate introduction of technology in their locality.|
Was the population living in the location and/or nearby involved in the development of the technology?
By means of what?
- Participatory approaches
- Other (please specify)
Section 5. Contribution to impact
Describe on-site impacts (the major two impacts by category)
The plantations, once it is well established, can serve as a carbon sink since the plants sequester carbon. This is crucial in light of emerging global warming caused by the climate change.|
Plantations prove to be one of the most efficient techniques in reducing the surface soil erosion and in impeding the impacts of other land degradation processes. Placing this activity in the upslope is highly beneficial for the agricultural activities taking place down-slope.
Establishment of plantations in the degraded area promotes the growth of bio-diversity (both flora and fauna) and makes it environmentally rich.
The farmers and communities can harvest certain products from the established sites, for instance, timber, bamboo and bamboo produce, forage for animals and other horticultural produce. Therefore, this improves the livelihoods of the stakeholders.|
Due to interventions on the up-slope land degradation processes provided by introducing land management technique, any form of agricultural activity down-slope becomes more productive.|
This technique is effective in stabilizing slopes and prevents landslides and mass movements. Therefore, this prevent loss of surrounding cultivable land physically.|
Describe the major two off-site (i.e. not occurring in the location but in the surrounding areas) impacts
Plantation activities in the catchments reduce and/or intercept the sediment load going into the water bodies (streams and river systems). This in essence, reduces siltation of hydro-power dams and water reservoirs.|
Active promulgation of this activity can help reduce the trans-boundary impacts, such as siltation and flooding in the low lying plains once the rivers leave the national boundaries. This would reduce the misery of people living in the flood plains.|
Impact on biodiversity and climate change
Explain the reasons:
Plantations in the degraded area creates better space for both flora and fauna, both on land surface and below ground in the soil. Therefore, it helps in flourishing bio-diversity in the area.
On the other hand, establishment of forest [achieved through plantation] serves as a medium for carbon sink since, as plants are very efficient in sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. This is crucial in light of emerging global warming caused by the climate change.
Has a cost-benefit analysis been carried out?
Has a cost-benefit analysis been carried out?
Section 6. Adoption and replicability
Was the technology disseminated/introduced to other locations?
Was the technology disseminated/introduced to other locations?
The fragile agricultural slopes across Bhutan received little attention in terms of sustainable land management (SLM) inputs vis-à-vis introduction of technologies. Starting late 1970’s and early 1980’s, stone bunding and wetland terracing were very few land management technologies promoted by the government by providing financial incentives. This was as far as it went till late 1990’s and early part of year 2000. Though it was one of the biggest revenue generating sector, it failed to get enough attention [strictly- in SLM domain], partly because the government was placing the social sectors such as education and health in the fore-front of development. However, gradual changes occurred since the year 2004 when the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF; alias Ministry of Agriculture) placed physical land degradation issues on a visible platform of the nation. Since, 2004, the MOAF has been making relentless efforts in addressing land degradation issues especially in the agricultural fields and in the vicinity of it. This was kick-started with the field assessment on severity of land degradation under Trashigang Dzongkhag, in 2004, which was carried out by the National Soil Services Centre. Then, vigorous bio-engineering training was conducted for RNR extension staff from the selected sites and nearby Dzongkhags. After achieving this, the first national level land management campaign (LMC) was conducted in Trashigang Dzongkhag in July 2005. The activities were implemented in 8 Gewogs (blocks). With participants from MoAF, Dzongkhags, Local Governments, RNR extension agents and local communities, SLM technologies were placed in the affected areas. The activities included establishments of hedgerows, bench terracing, plantations, gully protection techniques such as check-dams, etc. Over 25 ha of land were brought under SLM during the year. The RNR sectors under MoAF continued to work jointly in addressing land degradation issues. Additionally, other organizations, RNR Research Centres have taken very active roles in working towards addressing land degradation. To promote the horizontal spread of SLM activities in the degradation prone areas, the LMC activity was replicated each year, covering an average of 40 acres. By the end of 2011, over 270 acres of land were brought under SLM practices. The area excludes the ones from the reported best practices which covers over 11,390 acres.|
Were incentives to facilitate the take up of the technology provided?
Were incentives to facilitate the take up of the technology provided?
Specify which type of incentives:
- Financial incentives (for example, preferential rates, State aid, subsidies, cash grants, loan guarantees, etc)
- Fiscal incentives (for example, exemption from or reduction of taxes, duties, fees, etc)
Can you identify the three main conditions that led to the success of the presented best practice/technology?
Existence of strong cohesion between and amongst the farmers and their high level of interest towards addressing land degradation issues.
Like other sustainable land management best practices discussed in previous sections, plantation is done in a very participatory manner. This involves both local farmers and field extension agents in design and executing the plantation activities.
On the other hand, the success of this practice is partly because of the presence of highly motivated field extension agents and their positive interactions with the local farmers.
In your opinion, the best practice/technology you have proposed can be replicated, although with some level of adaptation, elsewhere?
At which level?
Section 7. Lessons learned
Related to human resources
Unlike the aforementioned best practices (1 & 2), this technology requires less labour. Even so, the minor plantation related issues have been addressed by adopting labour sharing groups from within the community/communities. This takes participatory approach rather than as a single household effort. However, with increasing rural-urban migration, the practice needs to be made more labour-efficient considering feedbacks from stakeholders and from the field experiences gained over the years.|
Related to technical aspects
The techniques involved are very simple and easily understood by the farmers. Therefore, basic training programmes are sufficient to build requisite knowledge and skills of the farmers. This, in turn, has helped in lowering the training and extension costs. Besides, it was also realized that selection of planting material is crucial to ensure greater survival rate, and are economically useful.|