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Teaching Bhutan

Bhutan, the Last Shangri-La: An Environmental Plan
Student Handout

Pretend that you’re Bhutanese and the King has appointed you in charge of planning the country’s environmental policy for the next 20 years. That’s a big goal, but countries have to plan for the long-term or they’ll be taken by surprise. Bhutan’s environment is in pretty good shape right now, but your government’s goal is to see that it remains in good shape for future generations. Think about the natural resources that you learned about in the video -- animals, plants, mountains, forests, rivers, etc. What will be the biggest concerns for your country? Remember, your country values its Buddhist beliefs and wants its policies to reflect those values.

The environmental plan should include statements about each of the following issues:

  • Land use and deforestation: How much land is available for agriculture? How much land is forested? What would happen if the forested land were removed to create agricultural land? Would that action be acceptable to the Buddhist culture? Would this be a good solution for Bhutan? How would this affect the current problem of soil erosion?
  • Drinking water: What solutions exist to the problem of access to clean drinking water? What natural sources of water exist, and how can people make sure that their water is clean?
  • Development: How does the presence of the mountains help to keep the environment in good shape? Is it easy to develop roads and industries in the mountains? Would the Bhutanese government want their land to be developed?
  • Tourism: Is there much potential for tourism? How much tourism exists now? How does the government feel about tourism? Do you think that increasing tourism would help or harm the country’s environment?
  • Overall attitude: What is the Bhutanese government’s overall attitude toward preserving its environment and culture? Is this attitude in line with the traditional Buddhist attitude toward the environment?

Organize your plan into seven sections:

  • Introduction: What is the purpose of the plan? Why does Bhutan need an environmental plan?
  • Five middle sections, one for each of the above five points.
  • Conclusion: What do you recommend be done to protect Bhutan’s environment for the next twenty years?

Online Information on Bhutan: