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Digging the Origin of Forests Bureaucracy in Bhutan


The origin of forests bureaucracy in Bhutan began with the establishment of Department of Forestry in 1952. Then the Forests in Bhutan were manned by forest officers on deputation from India. It was only in 1974 that Bhutan had its first national Forest Director.
Historical information shows that the forests in the country were a matter of political and economic interest dating way back to the First King’s time. For example King Ugyen Wangchuk in 1921 wrote to the British Government for assistance in forestry development and training “Bhutan has great forest which if worked on good lines should in time produce considerable revenue to the country and be a benefit to India.  At present they produce hardly any revenue and those adjoining the plains of India have been largely destroyed through the absence of supervision and ignorance of the proper methods of conservation.  I should like to have four of lads trained at a School of forestry” (Journal of Bhutan Studies Vol. 19, 2008).
Further, a British report in 1938 noted that there were in the Second King’s Court a sub-assistant surgeon who acted as the state doctor, two veterinary surgeons, two school masters, three forest rangers, one trained in mining and two in tannery.
Dr. Phuntsho Namgyel, a forest scientist, currently in a forest history hunt writes in Bhutan eForest - a forestry email group, “it is most sad that many of us really do not know anything about these pioneer foresters. It is time we do some forest history hunting in our tribute to these pioneers as well as finding for ourselves a historical context for our forestry profession.”
He has managed so far to collect 40 names out of 45 of the first batch of students in 1914 and their respective professional training background.  Incredibly, seven in the list were said to have received forestry training. Their names, villages and training levels as of current information available are as follows:
1.      Babu Gyem Dorji, Village Talung, Haa. Ranger
2.      Babu Golong, Village Kipri, Haa. Ranger
3.      Babu Tshewang Dorji, Haa. Ranger
4.      Babu Tshering, Wamrong.  Forester
5.      Babu Galingpa, Trashigang.  Forester
6.      Babu Do Thinley, Tshebar, Pemagatsel. Forester
7.      Babu Jangsa Pintsho, Paro. Forester
The forest history hunt is a great endeavor.  Anyone particularly children and grandchildren of these pioneers are requested to share any bit of information that they may possess to help Department of Forests and Park Services build a forest history.

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