A Day in the Field: Bhutan

Posted: October 3, 2016

Kuzuzangpo La! (This means hello in Dzongkha).

Having been on the UWICE campus for several weeks now, I feel like the best information I can give you is a glimpse of our everyday life.

Thursday, September 15. Breakfast was at 7:30, requiring a hike up two sets of stairs, across a stream, and up to the cafeteria. At 8:30 we started SRAP (silence, reflection, announcements, and physicality. Not necessarily in that order). Julia C. led SRAP with a lovely poem and a hilarious physicality that distracted us from the fact that our ride to our field trip had come across a few obstacles while coming to get us.


The Bee Keepers Cooperative

By 10:30 we arrived at our first location, the Bee Keepers Cooperative of Bhutan, Jalikhar: Bumthang. The chairman of the cooperative gave us a guest lecture while he toured us around the facility. He also showed us the hives, reaching in and pulling out handfuls of bees.


The Chairman (in the hat) shows us a colony of bees

We learned about the importance of this livelihood in this area of Bhutan. Bumthang is known for its buckwheat, and thus its buckwheat honey. The cooperative was founded as a Swiss development project, and has since grown into a hugely successful operation.

After a beautiful picnic lunch (thanks for the tiny Tupperware, mom!), it was time to start our field exercise in the community forest with Dr. Purna.


Dr. Purna shows us how to keep our heads cool in the field


Dr. Purna leads us into the Gyal-Lyon-Khar Community Forest

The community forest was a very young blue pine monoculture, and was managed by 86 local households. In the management plan for the forest it was projected to have enough wood resources to sustain the community, but they found that not to be true. Open-access mushrooms and wild strawberries, along with bee harvesting, supplemented the members’ income. Earlier in the week we learned the history and theory of community forests, and it was illuminating to see the practice in action.

Dinner was from 6:30 to 7:30, and then we had free time. The next day always brings a new adventure.

→ Himalayan Studies in Bhutan