Monday, October 1, 2012

The Natural Order: People’s Faith and Environment Management in Bhutan

After centuries of uninterrupted peace, stability and prosperity, Bhutan woke up to the changed realities of the world after a series of unprecedented natural disasters struck in quick successions bringing untold destructions and with it, a feeling of insecurity, uncertainty and anxiety among the Bhutanese people. This paper will try to briefly deal with the sense of security that the Bhutanese drew (and continues to draw) from their sustained faith in the power of the natural order that has been embedded in the country’s long Buddhist and naturalist traditions. The paper will also deal with how this belief in striking the right balance of the natural order resulted in the country’s unique conservation efforts. A study of the country’s largely intact natural environment will show that a small effort on the part of an individual nation can indeed show the way forward for the rest of the world.
Unfortunately, such initiative has its limit and the paper will show how Bhutan is now becoming an unwitting victim of the thoughtless destruction of the natural world elsewhere driven by an uncontrolled greed that seems to catch everyone. Though taken off guard in the beginning, this analysis goes on to show that Bhutan has indeed not only recovered from these jolts, but is now in the process of taking systematic safeguards against future disasters by constantly drawing upon its deep seated faith. In conclusion, the paper gives empirical evidence on the state of Bhutanese ecology based on fresh new data that were the result of the second Gross National Happiness survey.
On 27th July, 2009, a group of eight boys left their homes and went out on what was an unusually bright sunny day for what they thought was just a regular day out (Kuensel, 2009). Little did they know what was in store for them. The boys crossed the Wangchhu[2] and ventured on through the vegetation on its other bank. The river was then just waist high and used to wading through such water, they passed through without any difficulty. After they had had their fill of fun, they returned. However, as soon as they reached the river, the sky turned sour and there was a heavy monsoon downpour. Before they could cross, the river swelled and the first signs of panic showed on the boys. It was then that oldest among them decided to take matters in his hand.         After asking his younger peers (his own little brothers included) to stay back while he got help from people across the river, he swam across. True to his words, the boy returned with a few men from the town[3]. It was then that the boy along with the rescuers saw, to their horror, the seven little boys stranded in the middle of the already swollen river. The rain fell steadily and the boys clung onto a slippery boulder in the middle of the river.    
There was no time to waste, but the people on site were helpless against the wrath of nature. They thus called for help from the people from the settlement above who in turn informed the district headquarter. Within half an hour, a team of police rescuers came to the site. They threw ropes and mobile phones in plastic bags to the stranded children who caught hold of both items. Message was passed to the boys to tie themselves to the rope. It was in those times of despair that a call for help was sent to the management of the Chukha hydro power project to hold up the water in their dam so that the flow downstream could be controlled. However, all this while, the rain kept pounding without any sign of letting up. Night fell by the time officials including the head of the district administration reached the spot. As the rescuers were able to do hardly anything more than witness the scene as helpless spectators, the agitated children’s cries for help became more desperate. Hours passed by this way, and finally the project authority had to take a call on the dam’s steadily rising water level which was now at the point of bursting. The rest is history. All seven boys were washed away.
This single incident when a whole team of rescuers, however ill-prepared they were, failed to rescue even a single boy in seven excruciating hours inevitably raised a lots of questions about Bhutan’s preparedness to face up to such challenges. The call to step up the country’s disaster management abilities grew as the incident also proved in the most tragic way the increasing unpredictability of nature. As it was, the incident came just after the most devastating cyclone induced flooding that country had seen in recent times. It became clear that in this world of high exploitation and degradation, no one was spared of nature’s vengeance.
However, before we proceed any further, we must now take into account the country’s historical and religious underpinnings. It then becomes clear that the steadfast adherence to the country’s highly regarded value systems have ensured relative stability and prosperity in Bhutan. Calamities in Bhutan were far and few in between that they were considered almost non-existent. However, somewhere along the line, this good fortune has lead to a sense of complacency that might have caused this whole debacle.                 
Bhutan: A country profile
Bhutan’s recorded history dates back to the eighth century when the Indian saint Guru Padmasambhava came to country on invitation of a local king. It is said that through the display of his grandeur in restoring the health and prosperity of the King, the whole of the kingdom became his field of conversion (Aris, 1979)[4]. Buddhism was introduced with all of its accompanying value system among the people. However, it was not until the seventh century that Bhutan emerged as a unified state (Adrussi, 2005). The charismatic Tibetan religious hierarch Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel introduced a system of dual religious and secular rule which stressed the wellbeing of all sentient beings[5].
After 1907, however, a succession of enlightened Monarchs took over the country’s affairs and introduced unprecedented security, stability, peace and prosperity (Ura, 2010). Every facet of governance was aimed at promoting wellbeing. With a strong Buddhist underpinning, the state’s responsibilities extended to overseeing all life forms. Thus, with a strong emphasis on harmony, the country achieved its prosperity without putting at stake its environment. Indeed, in about a century’s rule of Monarchy, Bhutan grew so used to peace and security that it was almost unimaginable that anything bad could befall the country.
With only about 700,000 people, Bhutan’s generous total land area of 39,500 provide ample livelihood. Bhutan today enjoys one of the highest per capita in the region at USD 2,277 (NSB, 2011). On the back of its strong hydropower and tourism sector, Bhutan’s economy continues to see a strong growth[6]. In all respects of human development, Bhutan continues to see strong improvement[7].  
The belief in the natural order
Faith in Bhutan can be of two distinctive origins though they can only be briefly touched upon here for the sake of brevity (for details, see RSPN, 2006). Broadly speaking, the Bhutanese worldview is shaped in equal measures by its Buddhist faith and the pre-Buddhist naturalist traditions which have remained entrenched in the Bhutanese societal make-up even though Bonism from where they derive has largely been replaced.
The Buddhist concern for environment in turn is again twofold. First of these is the Buddhist philosophical consideration for all life forms. Buddhism regards all sentient beings (which in Buddhism implies even such things as vegetation) as being in a cyclical order of existence where each of them are dependent or are a consequence of the other. Thus, it is famously proclaimed that in our unceasing existences, every being is related to each other through a karmic[8] connection. It then goes that due to our unending births from the time of the inception of the universe, there is no being on this earth who has not been our parent in one of our previous births[9]. Based on such philosophical basis, a sophisticated school of moral instructions exist in Buddhism[10].   
The second of these considerations is the Buddhist conception of the universe[11]. According to Buddhist theories, the universe was formed after the right balance of the four primal elements[12] had been struck through the convergence of merit of all beings. Consequently, the vitality of life depends on this balance. While this balance can be maintained by further accumulation of merit, this is not always the case. Bhutan’s most revered saint figure Guru Padmasambhava is alleged to have said that “It is not the world that is changing, but the people who induce the changes.” Through uncontrolled exploitation resulting from greed, the balance of the elements can be disturbed. Thus, from the Buddhist perspective, it is clear that the world’s woe today is the result of our untamed greed.         
Then there are the pre-Buddhist beliefs that have remained in people’s popular culture as traditions. Largely naturalist in nature, they work by deifying elements of nature and amount to what is called nature worship. Different locations and elements of nature are believed to be the abodes of deities whose protectorate extend over a nation, district, locality or in some cases, even just a family. Thus, nature is transformed into an idea that is at once sacred and worthy of being worship. An elaborate hierarchy of such divinities has come to be that forms a parallel faith to Buddhism. It is said that if people put faith in Buddhism for provision of spiritual nourishment and possibility of enlightenment, then people dabble in this form of worship for their immediate welfare. Nature represents to them the forces that have to be constantly propitiated and honoured so as to receive their benediction in guise of timely rainfall, abundant harvest, prosperity and good health (Dorji, 2005). It is opportune to mention here that if Buddhism is considered a higher level of discipline which is practiced in monastic settings, then Bon faith is most predominant among the people who are closest to nature like the agriculturists. Above all, the prevalence of such faith deters people from irreverent acts of destruction which can be wrought upon nature where people are not similarly faithful.    
Thus, religious and traditional beliefs which are considerate of the very spirit of nature among the devout population of Bhutan translate into care and protection of our natural environment.               
Bhutan’s conservation successes
The official development policy of Bhutan reflects its deep-seated beliefs. High emphasis is placed on maintaining its ecology in its pristine form. Thus, every developmental activity must take into consideration the impact it might have on the environment. It is believed that whatever the short term gains, in the long run, any policy which erodes nature will ultimately be unsustainable[13]. This cautious development policy[14] has today resulted in Bhutan being able to retain much of its natural ecology. 72% of Bhutan’s total land surface remains forested and is home to a diverse range of exotic flora and fauna[15].
The Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan which was adopted in 2008 makes legal provisions for safeguarding the ecology against undue pressure that might result from increased exploitations in the future. Article 5 of the constitution which is solely dedicated to environment states, among others:
1.      Every Bhutanese is a trustee of the Kingdom’s natural resources and environment for the benefit of the present and future generations and it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to contribute to the protection of the natural environment, conservation of the rich biodiversity of Bhutan and prevention of all forms of ecological degradation including noise, visual and physical pollution through the adoption and support of environment friendly practices and policies.
2.       The Royal Government shall:
a.       Protect, conserve and improve the pristine environment and safeguard the biodiversity of the country;
b.      Prevent pollution and ecological degradation;
c.       Secure ecologically balanced sustainable development while promoting justifiable economic and social development; and
d.      Ensure a safe and healthy environment.
3.      The Government shall ensure that, in order to conserve the country’s natural resources and to prevent degradation of the ecosystem, a minimum of sixty percent of Bhutan’s total land shall be maintained under forest cover for all time.
4.      Parliament may enact environmental legislation to ensure sustainable use of natural resources and maintain intergenerational equity and reaffirm the sovereign rights of the State over its own biological resources.
5.      Parliament may, by law, declare any part of the country to be a National Park, Wildlife Reserve, Nature Reserve, Protected Forest, Biosphere Reserve, Critical Watershed and such other categories meriting protection.
Thus, the Constitution which forms the basis for Bhutan’s many environmental legislations aptly summarizes the spirit of Bhutan’s conservation effort.
One of Bhutan’s biggest successes has been its ability to protect more than half of its territory as protected areas where developmental activities are restricted as per the mandate of the constitution. The protected areas system of Bhutan was initiated in the 1960’s and covered almost the entire southern and northern regions of the country. In 1993, the parks system was revised for better ecological representation and realistic management. Today 51.4 percent of the country is formally declared as protected area[16].
As a result, Bhutan today is a carbon neutral country. Carbon-neutrality is a term used to demonstrate that all greenhouse gas emissions from energy consumption (mainly transport), industry, agriculture and waste, are either avoided, reduced or offset, to a net result of zero emissions. Bhutan is in effect a carbon sink with its abundant forest cover that is able to absorb carbon emissions from other countries.  
Although Bhutan’s per capita energy consumption has increased in recent times, much of this requirement is met through production of clean hydropower. The country has placed a high emphasis on tapping its rich hydropower potential and it already generates about 40% of national revenue. However, care has been taken to ensure that the construction of such mega plants are as environment friendly as can be reasonably expected. Once commissioned, Bhutan’s hydropower plants are expected to have minimum impact on the environment as they are mostly run-of-the-mill (Choden, 2011).  
In Bhutan, people are often the aggrieved party when brought in confrontation with nature. Due to the state’s strong conservation policies, human activities that are considered even marginally adverse to the ecology are shot down no matter how economically viable they are. Many farmers are now having to abandon their farmlands as wild animals ravage through them. The latest nationwide GNH survey suggests that as many as 38% of the farmer respondents are faced with major problems with animal predation. The state though is helpless in the face of their own policies which forbid any retaliatory actions. Though such helplessness can be interpreted in many ways, it must be said that such uncompromising stance only goes to show the strong commitment of the state.
However in return for all its initiatives and compromises, Bhutan has gained wide international recognition for its conservation successes. In 2005, the Fourth King of Bhutan, His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck was given the Champion of the Earth award as the architect of Bhutan’s recent conservation efforts. Bhutan is also acknowledged as a bio-logical hotspot of the world for the high occurrence of bio-diversity as much as for its enviable efforts at preserving it[17].
Occurrence of natural disasters
Despite its sustained efforts to conserve the best in nature, Bhutan has of late been facing unprecedented calamities. Though it cannot be denied that there is increased pressure on the environment within Bhutan itself, these disasters have often been the result of a larger malaise for which Bhutan bears little personal guilt. It only goes to show the limitation of a single country’s effort. It must also be said that given the highly vulnerable nature of Bhutan’s location[18], the only thing that has so far held back the strike of nature’s wrath has been the collective merit of the people and the resultant good fortune, both of which are now showing signs of receding as people’s need and desire for possessions increase. This can be seen in the increased exploitation of natural resources which, though negligible by international comparison, shows a definite increase.
This paper will however not make a detailed enumeration of all disasters which have struck Bhutan. Such attempts have already been made with much greater authority by various stakeholder institutions (see MoHCA, 2006 & UNDP, 2011). So, we will limit ourselves here to presenting a brief synopsis of all the disasters. It will also be the attempt of this paper to make a trend analysis of these calamities which show an increase in frequency of late.
Sl No
Nature of Disaster
Cost of damage (In Million Nu)
Earth quake (On Richter scale)
6.6 (Epicentre outside Bhutan)
5.5 (Epicentre in Bhutan)
5.8 and 5.5 (Double strike Epicentre in eastern Bhutan)
6.3 (Epicentre in eastern Bhutan)
6.9 (Epicentre outside Bhutan)
GLOF[19] and Flood
Punakha GLOF
Pasakha flooding
Eastern Bhutan flooding
Cyclone Aila induced flooding
Fire in Haa district
Three fire accidents in Bumthang
26.9.10, 18.2.11, 27. 5.11
Figure I: Disaster occurrence
From these disaster statistics (while not comprehensive), it is clear that disasters occurred in Bhutan at regular interval. However, we can see that both the frequency and magnitude of damage have undoubtedly been greater of late. It is also clear that earthquake is the greatest threat that the country is faced with. This brings us to a brief analysis of what has been held up as the causes of disasters in Bhutan.
Bhutan is located on the fragile Himalayan mountain ranges and studies have shown that it is placed on one of the most seismically active zones of the world. Although a comprehensive seismic zonation of Bhutan is unavailable, its proximity to north-eastern parts of India, which is the ‘most active’ seismic Zone V (Bureau of Indian Standards), indicates that majority of Bhutan is either in Zone IV or V. Records suggest that four great earthquakes of magnitude exceeding 8 on the Richter scale occurred during 1987, 1905, 1934 and 1950.
As a country with some of the highest mountains in Bhutan, Bhutan is now also faced with the threat of retreating glaciers on an unprecedented scale. While the long term dangers of this situation is the drying up of its rivers on which Bhutan has invested heavily, the immediate danger is the formation of water bodies at the source of these rivers which can lead to flooding with grave consequences to both lives and properties. Thus, Bhutan is faced with grave geographical challenges.
Apart from that, with a growing population, there is also an increasing pressure on the environment which aggravates the risk factors. Among others, this leads to unsafe settlement patterns which come with increased vulnerabilities (MoHCA, 2006). One of the most disturbing trends in Bhutan is the rapid urbanization. While urbanization in itself cannot be considered bad, haphazard construction practices that has unfortunately accompanied urbanization like elsewhere in the region aggravates the risk factors of disasters. However, rural Bhutan is itself not much better facing disasters as in fact the rural populace has been shown as the most vulnerable in recent incidences of disasters. Poverty[20] in Bhutan is a predominantly rural concept and thus people have been compromising on safety measures in developing their properties which are at the most risk of being damaged.
However, it is generally agreed that disasters in Bhutan is mostly the result of the changing realities of the world’s environment.    
Disaster management
Faced with recurrent disasters, and as a result of such incidences as the one recounted as an introduction to this paper, disaster preparedness and management has received attention from the highest authority in Bhutan. His Majesty the Fifth King of Bhutan has been the main force behind the country’s revamped disaster management abilities. Among others, His Majesty has instituted a voluntary force called Desuup (Peace Keeper) which has prepared hundreds of civilians to take up peace time duties. They have been trained in rescue and disaster management skills and are expected put their new capabilities to use in times of emergencies.
Bhutan’s first professionally trained National Search and Rescue Team (NaSART) was formally launched with 20 members from diverse professional backgrounds who will in turn become master trainers and replicate such capabilities all across the country. The need for such specialized personnel was felt for a long time in the country because in life and death situations, professional capabilities was the main difference between a successful operation and a disaster. However, apart from these specialists, the armed personnel of Bhutan have been the frontline force responsible for Bhutan’s disaster mitigation and management efforts. In recent times, soldiers of the Royal Bhutan Army have been deployed all over the country to help people rebuild their lives in aftermath of the recurrent disasters. Bhutan’s constitution mentions that “a person shall have the responsibility to provide help, to the greatest possible extent, to victims of accidents and in times of natural calamity” (Article 8.6) thus making it the responsibility of every Bhutanese to respond.
Bhutan has also developed legislative, institutional and funding mechanisms to deal with natural disasters and other emergency situations. Drawing their inspiration from the Constitution, various acts, by-laws and other legislations have been prepared to not only manage the country’s environment but also to give a framework for disaster management. Among others, Environment Assessment Act (2002), Bhutan’s Water Policy (2003), Bhutan Building Rules (2002), Bhutan National Disaster Risk Management Framework (2006), National Disaster Management Bill, National, District and School Disaster Management Planning Guidelines were formulated.
Figure II: Disaster Management Institutions as per the Disaster Management Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan
At institutional level, a multi-sectoral coordination mechanism has been prepared under the National Disaster Management Authority. The Department of Disaster Management has been formed under the Department of Home and Cultural Affairs as the central coordinating agency in August 2008 after it was upgraded from a division under the same ministry. Today, with technical assistance from the Department, a network of all relevant agencies has been formed at both national and local level to meet the need of disaster preparedness and management.
One of the greatest tragedy of natural and other calamities is the huge financial cost involved. However, a sound financial arrangement can have the effect of not only increasing efficiency in disaster management, but it can also result in economy of the whole rebuilding effort afterwards. The Disaster Mitigation, Prevention and Preparedness Budget, His Majesty’s Relief Fund and Major Disaster Fund have been introduced to that effect. Finally, realizing that disasters are inevitable despite all efforts in this age of high degradation, the insurance policy of Bhutan has been strengthened to reduce the impact of tragedies by ensuring the lives and properties of people[21].
GNH survey report: Empirical evidence on the state of Bhutanese ecology
This paper will conclude with an analysis of the GNH survey report in giving empirical evidence on the state of Bhutanese ecology. Gross National Happiness has been adopted as the country’s official development policy since His Majesty the Fourth King propounded the concept in the 1970s. The philosophy is an extension of the country’s religious and traditional values. It stresses that development in the country must necessarily encompass all spheres of life and any development that doesn’t promote harmony is not worth pursuing. The ultimate aim of development in Bhutan thus became people’s wellbeing and happiness which is best achieved when there is a balance between various elements like spiritual development, environment conservation and material prosperity. From a merely philosophical inquiry, GNH today has a definitive policy framework and guides much of the country’s development process. From the four pillars[22], the achievement of GNH is today measured against nine domains[23]. In both these frameworks, the issue of ecological conservation features prominently.
The development of GNH policy tools has been the result of years of scientific data collection and analysis. The latest GNH survey was carried out in 2010 and it reveals some empirical evidence on the state of Bhutan’s ecology and people’s perception of the country’s policies which is vital to garner support of the public for the government’s conservation efforts. At the same time, the awareness and knowledge of the citizens on their environment are crucial for pro-environmental actions and in making environmental policies successful. So, in order to test people’s environmental awareness, a series of questions were developed to test the intensity of environmental problems. The expressions of environmental concern were aimed at understanding people’s concerns, knowledge and awareness on environmental conditions in their respective communities.        
The survey revealed that among others, an overwhelming 83.9% of 7142 respondents have said that they feel strongly responsible towards conserving the ecology. Another 14.5% of the respondents were reported to having felt similar responsibility though not with the same intensity. An amazing 96.4% of the respondents were found supportive of the state’s tough anti-pollution measures though again with different intensity. However, due to the higher rural respondent numbers, the survey shows that only about 9% of the respondents have reported to having comprehensive understanding of the issue of climate change though another 32% reported to having a basic grasp of the situation. The survey also found that Bhutan was doing reasonably well in terms of meeting the people’s basic resources need with 78% of the people reporting to have access to adequate water supply. The survey also found that 35% of the respondent had ownership of some kind of automobiles[24] which comes with various implications.
However, the survey has revealed some alarming environmental issues that are mainly felt among the farmers who are the closest to nature. 52% of the farmer respondents have claimed that wildlife was a major constraint in the past 12 months while an additional 21% have also reported to having similar problems though at a lesser scale. 38% of the farmers reported that they suffered major crop damage while 25% reported some damage to their crop. As many as 87% of the respondents have reported to having left some parts of their fields fallow specifically due to wildlife threats.
The survey also shows various other emerging environmental concerns like landslide, flood, unpredictable weather patterns, littering and pollution. Though most of these have been persistent problems, the gravity of their situation has certainly increased of late. Thus, they will have strong policy implication in the future.   
It has been the attempt of this paper to show that the people’s belief system that draws from both Buddhist and naturalist traditions has had a huge impact on Bhutan’s conservation. It has been argued that the relative stability and prosperity of Bhutan has been the result of the people’s abiding faith in the power of collective merit. Thus, this factor, where they exist, has been promoted as a motivating factor for the care of nature.
However, the paper does acknowledge the limitation of such faith system and shows that increased needs will eventually lead to thoughtless exploitation of our natural resources. And when such things happen, the balance of nature is offset. Nature’s ability to correct itself is stretched to its limit. The consequence has been shown as nature’s way of teaching a lesson through the inflicting of great calamities.
It has also been the effort of this paper to show that even a need based utilization of resources will ultimately be unsustainable as need itself increases due to factors like overpopulation. Thus, preparedness and management of disaster has been posited as the way forward in an increasingly volatile world. It is hoped that the environmental best practices of Bhutan which have their root in the people’s faith is emulated across the world as the environmental challenges that we face today require a global effort to tackle successfully. After all, Bhutan is too small a country to even hope to remedy the world’s woes alone.   
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[2] This tragic incident took place in the district of Chukha in south western Bhutan through which this river flows. During the course of its passage through the place, two dams for the country’s oldest and biggest (Chukha and Tala respectively) hydropower plants are built. Parents of most of these boys worked for the projects.
[3] The location of this incident was in a deep gorge below the settlement of Wangkha, a distance of 16 km from the district headquarter. The time needed to get to the town and return was roughly an hour.
[4] Among his many remarkable deeds, Guru Rinpoche is particularly renowned for assimilating elements of nature worship into Buddhism as a means of placating the strong Bon opposition to the spread of Buddhism in Tibet. Though it may be considered by puritans as a corruption of the doctrine, its many benefits included not only the acceptance of the new religion by the Tibetan masses but it also ensured the carryover of a sophisticated system of living in harmony with the various elements of the natural world. Thus, in Bhutan, people came to believe in an existence that were in accord with understanding the ways of nature. This fact could, without much exaggeration, be contrasted against the rather egoistic presumptions of the western world which believed nature was hardly anything more than their fiefdom of which they should take command.
[5] The first state laws introduced in the country were credited to him or his lineage holders. In these laws which were based on the sixteen pure human conducts, provisions were made for the protection and sustainable use of the bounties of nature. These could possibly be considered amongst the very first modern legislations on environment (Aris, 1986).
[6] The average growth rate of the economy for the year 2005-2010 was 8.7%.
[7] Life expectancy increased from 66.3 to 68.9 from 2005 to 2010. From 45% in 1994, Bhutan’s adult literacy rate increased to 55.5 in 2007. Bhutan has achieved universal coverage in child enrolment in school, health coverage and provision of basic amenities.
[8] Karma is an important consideration in Buddhism as a force which dictates the circumstances of our existence. It is believed that positive accumulation of merit by means of right actions will gain us merit which will result in the development of favourable situations for us in the future. It is said that what we are now is the result of what we did in the past and what we will be in the future will be the result of what we do now. Thus, for the general Bhutanese, this is a positive motivation to be good to all life forms that exist.
[9] Enlightenment in Buddhism is a belief that a being is forever able to cut off him/herself from the negative circumstances that leads to such repeated birth. Thus, every being while being caught in a fatalistic situation, can hope to better his circumstances through the accumulation of positive merits which will lead to his developing enlightened qualities.
[10] The Jakata parables relate the account of an ascetic who cuts a tree that was blocking the view of his meditation hut. As a consequence, in his next life, he is born as a monstrous creature with the same tree sprouting from his head with all its accompanying discomfort and pain. Brahminism from which some Buddhist philosophies are directly borrowed believes, though theoretically, that plants too are kinds of animals with life in them. See The Buddhistic Rule against Eating Meat by E. Washburn Hopkins (1906).
[11] “On space rests that body we call the air; On air rests the body of water; On water rests the body of earth, And the earth holds in it all the life forms” (RSPN, 2006).
[12] Earth, water, fire and air.
[13] One of Bhutan’s steps towards conservation has been the restriction that it imposed on the number of tourists visiting the country as high tourist numbers has often been linked with environmental degradation. 
[14] Despite its huge economic potential, due to restrictive policies, the mining industry in Bhutan constitutes only 2% of the GDP (NSB, 2011)
[15] Owing to its location between two major bio-geographic realms, the Malayan and Palearctic, Bhutan’s biodiversity wealth includes 5,603 species of vascular plants including 579 wild orchids, 46 rhododendrons, over 300 medicinal plants and at least 30 bamboo species. Close to 200 species of mammal including the Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris), Snow Leopard (Unicia uncia), Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens), Takin, (Budorcas taxicolor),  Golden Langur (Trachypithecus geei), Asiatic Elephant (Elephus maximus), and the Himalayan Musk Deer (Moschus chrysogaster leucogaster). The Royal Bengal Tiger living at 4000 meters above sea level in Bhutan is an extraordinary finding and has been recently documented on film by the BBC. Bhutan also has 678 recorded species of bird. At least 14 species are globally threatened and ten fall within the restricted range.
 [16] Royal Society for the Protection of Bhutan Website
[17] Royal Society for the Protection of Nature Website
[18] Bhutan lies hidden in the folds of the eastern Himalayas between two giant neighbours; China (Tibet) to the north and the Indian territories of Assam and West Bengal to the south, Arunachal Pradesh to the east and Sikkim to the West. With a total area of 38,384 sq. kilometres, Bhutan lies between 88o 45’ and 92o 10’ longitude East and 26o 42’ and 28o 15’ latitude North. Bhutan is a mountainous country except for a small flat strip in the southern foothills with hot and humid summer. The valleys in the central and northern parts are separated by mountains as high as 7200 metres.
[19] Glacial Lake Outburst Flood
[20] While acute poverty is not reported in Bhutan, income poverty of 21% is the national poverty rate. Of this, maximum poverty incidence is reported in rural Bhutan.
[21] Mandatory insurance schemes in Bhutan covers both people and properties for immediate relief. However, with increased awareness, people are now getting voluntary insurance coverage as well.
[22] Cultural promotion, environmental conservation, good governance and balanced and sustainable development.
[23] Psychological wellbeing, health, time use, education, cultural resilience, community vitality, good governance, ecology diversity and living standard.
[24] 62,700 automobiles in Bhutan of all types
@ densore