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Bringing our national tree into the limelight

Mission Tsendhen trees in Bhutan: Mapping crew at Lumitsawa
Very little is known about our national tree the cypress, and even less is known when it comes to its distribution and phenotypical characteristics.

The Tsenden Mapping initiative that is currently under full swing and being conducted by the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE) in Bumthang will help shed light on many such aspects of the cypress, as no such comprehensive mapping activity has been carried out in the past.
"The 5-member Tsenden mapping team from UWICE is out in the field visiting every cypress stand as well as significant single trees"

The 5-member Tsenden mapping team from UWICE is out in the field visiting every cypress stand as well as significant single trees. They made head start on May 17 from Punakha Dzongkhag and will tentatively complete the surveying by the end of August. In their four months field tenure seeking out every cypress tree, they’ll be visiting atleast sixteen Dzongkhags excluding those in the north and south which are literally out of Tsenden growing range.

Standing under a cypress stand at Lumitsawa, Punakha, Pema Dendup said, “In every Tsenden stand we visit, we lay out circular sample plot”

Standing under a cypress stand at Lumitsawa, Punakha, Pema Dendup, the crew leader said, “In every Tsenden tree stand we visit, we lay out circular sample plots measuring 16.62 m”. While occasionally plucking off the blood-sucking creepy crawlies so bothersome to their quest, he added that Global Positioning System (GPS) recording, prism sweeps and girth measurements are also carried out within the prism range. Increment boring, tree height, regeneration status and other comprehensive data related to cypress are also collected.

“This will tell us about the type and the nutrient content in the soil where cypress trees prefer to grow,” added Rinchen Singay

The soil in the area where the cypress grows is also collected and will be sent to the National Soil Service Centre in Semtokha for laboratory analysis. “This will tell us about the type and the nutrient content in the soil where cypress trees prefer to grow,” added Rinchen Singay, a team member.

For those significant single trees adjacent to villages and other cultural monuments, the team is also recording the myths and beliefs associated with these outstanding trees in addition to other information. The preliminary survey done by the Social Forestry Division (SFD) last year is also expected to help make seed collection easier and to have far reaching effects on the Department’s efforts in reviving the native Tsenden species of Bhutan.

"For those significant single tree adjacent to villages and cultural monuments, the myths and beliefs associated with it are also recorded"

Excitingly, Information and Communication Services (ICS) with UWICE will also be producing a Tsenden documentary which will be broadcast through the local television channel. All these efforts are spearheaded towards educating the general public on our tree of national significance.


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