From better health to more trees, Punakha monks take on climate change

A small Buddhist monastery, Nidupchu Lhakhang, under Chubu Gewog in Punakha has embarked on quite revolution. The monastery had planted over 2000 trees in the deforested areas in the critical watershed and had installed solar water heating system.

This has resulted in reduction in use of fuel wood for heating water for the monks. The monastery claims that installation of the solar heating system has saved 20 man loads of firewood weekly. Meanwhile the tree plantation would help revive the drying water source that would supply water to over 250 households in 12 villages of Chubu and Toewang Gewog.

Over the time, the forest coverage in and around the critical watershed area has been depleting. The main reason for it was collection of firewood and timber, grazing and other human interferences.

   

In November 2016, Nidupchu Thakhor Netang Tshogpa received small grant, Nu 400,000, from Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation to carry out the project. The Gomo Watershed Conservation Project aimed to conserve and protect critical watershed area, promote alternative energy for heating and cooking. The project would help conserve exotic species, educate community on the importance of protection and conservation of critical watershed areas, increase forest coverage, reduce usage of firewood and enhance livelihood of the communities.

Today the 300 litres solar hot water system has reduced firewood consumption and electricity bill and has improved the health and sanitation of young monks.

Nidupchu Lhakhang is located at an altitude of about 3000 meters and its critical watershed provides drinking water and irrigation facilities to 250 households of Pel Lhate, Humpathang, Keri Gangkha, Tsachhu, among others.  Currently there are 35 student monk and 3 teachers in the monastic school.

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