Is National Environment Conservation Success a Rural Failure? The Other Side of Bhutan's Conservation Story

Penjore, Dorji

In: Towards Global Transformation: Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Gross National Happiness. Thimphu, The Centre for Bhutan Studies 2008, pp. 66-87 . ISBN 99936-14-42-4

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At a great risk of provoking mainstream happiness theories and theorists, this paper argues that economic development is the key to increasing happiness, especially in rural Bhutan. It identifies national conservation policy as primarily responsible for decreasing the food security of rural households. Since the positive impacts of environmental conservation dominate our development discourse as well as government documents, this paper discusses the negative impacts of conservation policy on the wellbeing of farmers. It argues that Bhutan's 'middle path' approach to development is an extreme path biased towards conservation of the environment at all costs. The impact of national conservation policy on subsistence livelihood is 'asymmetric' since one season's or year's harvests are often lost to wild animals in one single night. It contends that the indigenous resource management system is holistic and sustainable, and that what is not sustainable is the modern resource management regime that has been blindly applied across the country without considering unique local contexts. It also highlights the inadequacy of conservation science to address the human aspect of the ecosystem and the politics of Himalayan environmental crises. It concludes with some policy recommendations.

Document type: Book Section
Version: Secondary publication
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2010 14:40
ISBN: 99936-14-42-4
Faculties / Institutes: Research Organisations / Academies > Centre for Bhutan Studies
DDC-classification: Agriculture
Controlled Keywords: Bhutan, Naturschutz, Landwirtschaft
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ländliche Entwicklung, Bhutan , Nature Conservation , Agriculture
Subject (classification): Agriculture and Forestry
Countries/Regions: Bhutan
Additional Information: Also available at