News | 16 Oct, 2023

Promoting Nature-based Solutions for springshed management in Bhutan’s mountain ecosystems

From 18-21 September, IUCN Asia, together with the Department of Water, Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Bhutan and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), organised a training on springshed management as a Nature-based Solution for water security and climate adaptation in Bhutan. Twenty local leaders from each of Bhutan’s districts joined the training, which aimed to raise awareness of risks of drying springs throughout the country, while also discussing how to revive them through a Nature-based approach.

“Water is a necessity, and we are seeing springs and water bodies drying up even in remote parts of the country. This effort is very critical and timely.” The Minister for Energy and Natural Resources, H.E. Loknath Sharma, called for a concerted effort to address the water crisis in Bhutan.

Throughout the four-day training, organisers presented best practices for springshed management and how they aligned with the IUCN Global Standard on Nature-based Solutions. Participants shared their experiences implementing Nature-based Solutions, assessing past interventions against each of the eight criteria in the Standard.

The training organised a field visit to Dopshari community watershed, where local communities have set up a ‘Payment for Ecosystem Services’ scheme, through which downstream hotels pay the community to maintain a healthy watershed ensuring ongoing water supply to the private sector. During the field visit, participants assessed case studies against the Global Standard, through interviews with community members and leaders as well as field observations.

Participants also visited Lholing community, which has suffered from drying springs leading to migration out of the village. Springshed revival interventions, led by the Department of Water and ICIMOD, have since resulted in the restoration of the springs in the community, once again bringing water to the community and preventing additional migration from the village.

“Springs are the social, economic, cultural, and ecological pillars of sustainable mountain development—vital sources of freshwater. Their revival and springshed management are vital to ensure present and future water security and in making informed decisions in the gewogs [local government units],” said Mr Tenzin Khorlo, Water Resource Coordination Division Officiating Director.

On the final day of the training, participants prepared tentative plans for integrating springshed management and Nature-based Solutions into their local community policies.

The programme was supported by Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office with funding from the Himalayan Resilience Enabling Action Programme under the Climate Action for a Resilient Asia programme.