BHUTAN – THIMPHU, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) — Firefighters and volunteers are protecting the famous Taktshang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery from the ongoing forest fire which has been raging hundreds of acres of forestlands in Paro district of Bhutan since February 9.
Hundreds of people are trying to contain the forest fire that has spread to various directions owing to strong winds and dry season. Foresters confirmed that several wild animals and Yaks were killed in the ongoing forest fire.
Losing hundreds of acres of forestlands to forest fires especially during the dry season (Winter months) has always been a challenge for the himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. The country is known and recognized for its rich forest cover, which makes the country to call itself a carbon neutral nation.
As a national treasure, Bhutan’s policies and people also protect the forest. As per the constitution of Bhutan, the government should maintain 60 percent of forest cover for all time. Efforts to keep up with the policy have been ongoing, whereby conducting continuous plantations across the country annually.
Officials said such devastating fire is not just a challenge for a small country, as it endangers wildlife habitats, infrastructures and posses major ecological destruction.
Most forest fires are caused by human activities, such as burning of agricultural waste, children playing with flammable materials, smokers disposing of burning matches or cigarettes, picnickers, cattle herders, road side workers or hikers making camp fires and even electrical short circuits. Such a vast range of reasons means that officials often find it hard to identify the culprit behind a particular fire.
Destruction of forestlands is also attributed to the rapid urbanization and various developmental activities in the country.
Bhutan has lost some of its significant historical dzongs to fire. The most recent one is the famous Wangduephodrang dzong in 2012.