Community-based Climate Change Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment of the Protected Areas of Bhutan 2022
Climate change is recognized as a global issue and is increasingly being acknowledged by the global community. Climate change impacts natural and human systems and these impacts are bound to no area and regions. Himalayan regions are found to have experienced an accelerated rate of climate change and future projections show even higher rates of increase in temperature. Fragile Himalayan mountain terrain and higher dependence of its inhabitants on climate sensitive sectors further exacerbates the situation. Bhutan being small, landlocked and least developed country located in the highly vulnerable eastern Himalayan region is highly susceptible to impacts of climate change. The country’s dependence on climate sensitive sectors like rain-fed agriculture and hydropower coupled with low adaptive capacity, poor economy constrained by financial, technical and human capacity makes Bhutan highly vulnerable to climate change.
Bhutan is one of the first countries to recognize climate change as a threat to humanity and committed to remain carbon neutral for all times. Bhutan has made significant progress in taking climate change actions both at the national and international level. Bhutan adopted Climate Change Policy and is in the process of developing National Adaptation Plan to guide long-term national climate change adaptation strategies.
The Bhutan for Life (BFL) fund supported this study to assess climate change vulnerability of the communities living in the Protected Area (PA) networks of Bhutan with the aim to develop climate change adaptation plan and implement adaptation actions. The BFL envisions to increase resilience of communities living in the PAs to ensure their well-being as they form an integral part of Bhutan’s biodiversity conservation strategy. The study was carried out in 14 PAs including all National Parks/Sanctuaries/Reserves and 4 of the 8 Biological Corridors with higher human settlements. Social questionnaire survey was conducted to assess community exposure, sensitivity and adaptation capacity to climate change. Vulnerability index for each PA was computed as a function of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity.
The study surveyed 2020 households representing ~15% of households from each PA. The average age of respondents was 47 with ~85% of the respondents aged between 30 – 70 years. Women headed households constituted nearly 40% of the households interviewed. For all the PAs, men headed households had higher literacy rate. About 98% of the households have landholding and ~85% own livestock, indicating their dependency on agriculture and livestock farming as the primary source of income.