Proceedings of BES is an open access, online journal dedicated to promoting the informed conservation and sustainable management of Bhutan’s rich natural heritage. Consistent with the mission of the Bhutan Ecological Society, the journal brings together work and perspectives from many sectors—including legal, education, research, management, religious, and media—to understand and develop solutions for the Himalaya’s pressing environmental challenges, with relevance to Bhutan.

Proceedings of BES is published once per year. All submissions are reviewed by an editorial board comprising national and international conservation scientists and practitioners. The journal accepts original submissions in the following categories:

  • Research Article (up to 6000 words). Original theoretical or empirical ecological research in the natural or social sciences, relevant to Bhutan.

  • Policy Analysis (up to 6000 words). Informed analysis of current conservation policy topics relevant to Bhutan.

  • Review Paper (up to 7500 words). Thorough literature or interview review of a current topic within the journal’s scope.

  • Short Communication (up to 2500 words). Important preliminary and novel research or findings (e.g., discovery of new species) that may not appropriate for submission as a full ‘Research Article’.

  • Perspective (up to 2500 words). Personal viewpoint on any subject within the journal's scope, or responding to material previously published in Proceedings of BES. Arguments should be supported by evidence with relevant citations.

We are now accepting submissions for the 2015 journal issue. Authors interested in submitting a manuscript for publication consideration should send an abstract to the Editorial Board at Please include the subject heading ‘Submission for 2015 Journal Consideration’


Mast seeding, the intermittent production of synchronized seed crops among plant populations, is a world-wide phenomenon that has been reported in the Himalayan mountains across a large number of habitat types, and among a wide variety of long-lived grass, shrub and tree species. In this paper, we review various hypotheses that explain why mast seeding occurs, and describe a number of the better-known mast seeding floral elements that exist in Bhutan. We also stress the need for further documentation of the seeding cycles of plants in Bhutan, and emphasize the need for careful management of species that rely on mast seed crops for their regeneration.


This paper presents the state-of-the-knowledge on herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians) of Bhutan. Through a comprehensive review of literature, the paper identifies 84 snakes, 23 lizards, 20 tortoises and turtles, 56 anurans, one caecilian and a Himalayan Salamander known to occur in Bhutan. Based on the author’s field work, six previously unreported species of herpetofauna viz. Russel’s Kukri (Oligodon taeniolatus), Yunnan Bamboo Pit Viper (Trimeresurus cf. stejnegeri yunnanensis), Tibetan Pit Viper (Trimeresurus cf. tibetanus), Blue Fan Throated Lizard (Ptyctolaemus gularis), Annandali’s Paa (Nanorana annandalii), and Pygmy Leaf Frog (Chiromantis vittatus) bring the total number of species known in Bhutan to 191. Two previously reported species, Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) and the American Bull Frog (Lithobates catesbeianus) are removed from the list. The paper highlights which species need further confirmation, and which warrant further research or special conservation protection status.


In resource dependent rural areas of Bhutan, community forestry management is promoted as a viable option for poverty reduction, enhancement of local economic development and biodiversity conservation. While there have been an impressive number of community forests established in Bhutan since the early 2000s, there are many concerns including the degree to which benefits of community forests are equitably distributed within the community forestry management groups. This paper presents the findings of a study investigating economic equity (distribution of financial benefits) and social equity (participation in decision making) from three community forest management groups in two eastern Dzongkhags. The comparisons among socioeconomic groups (rich, middle income and poor), committee vs. regular members, and by gender on livelihood assets and utilization of the forest products (timber, firewood, fodder, leaf litter and non-wood forest products) from community forests were conducted based on information determined from household surveys. The findings suggest that the community forest members had obtained most of their forest products requirements from community forests and inequity was insignificant amongst the different socioeconomic groups, between committee and regular members and between male and female members. However, economic equity (access to and distribution of forest products) from community forests was dependent on various household characteristics such as availability of land, livestock holdings, trees on private lands, food sufficiency, and income status of households. These factors exert a strong influence on determining the social equity and benefits from community forests. In general, economic equity and social equity were found comparatively higher than reported in neighboring countries. This may possibly be attributed to socio-cultural homogeneity, gender equality, supportive policies and rules, and appropriate resource endowment in community forests.


The first winter snowfall in Thimphu is of importance and interest to the Thimphu population for various reasons including anticipation of the national snow holiday, which occurs on the first snowfall day of each year. Only the first snowfall of the season is reported in the newspaper (Kuensel)—there are no other records of snowfall incidents in the country. The records reported in Kuensel and other sources from 1991 to 2014 were compiled to understand the trend in first snowfall date for Thimphu. For the years studied, the median annual start date of snowfall in Thimphu was January 20th, with a range from December to March.


We conducted a questionnaire study to measure college students’ attitudes towards environmental issues and determine if environmental studies students completing the three-year degree curriculum at Royal Thimphu College under the Royal University of Bhutan exhibited more positive attitudes towards the environment than fresh incoming students. A 45-item Likert-type Environmental Attitude Questionnaire, which consisted of four dimensions, viz. awareness of environmental problems, awareness of national environmental problems, solutions to the problems and awareness of individual responsibility, was used to measure students’ environmental attitudes. A separate scale, the 15-item Revised New Ecological Paradigm, was also used. A total of 134 students were surveyed (78 incoming and 56 outgoing students). Data from the two sample categories were analysed using one-way MANOVA (multivariate analysis of variance) and Student’s t-test for comparison of means. There was a statistically significant difference between the incoming and outgoing students with regard to their attitudes towards environmental issues with both scales: in general, outgoing students had marginally more positive attitudes towards the environment. Statistically significant differences that indicated more positive environmental attitudes could be detected in the Environmental Attitude Questionnaire dimensions of attitude towards environmental problems (general), national environmental problems (specific to Bhutan), solutions, and individual responsibility, as well as in the ecocentric dimension of the Revised New Ecological Paradigm scale. The study establishes the feasibility of conducting such measurements of environmental attitudes and provides a baseline for comparison in future studies to help evaluate the impact of environmental education in Bhutan.


The Nabji Trail was created in 2006 in Bhutan’s Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park as the country’s first community-based ecotourism project. The goals of the Nabji Trail were to extend tourism to remote communities in need of socioeconomic opportunities while also building local capacity to manage ecotourism activities and stewarding environmental resources. This study examined participation and governance during the first five years of its operation (2006–2010). Participation in the Nabji Trail ecotourism activities was found to differ between villages comprised of the two key ethnic groups, Monpa and Khengpa. The Monpa villages are located deep within the forest and had relatively few income generating opportunities, low food security and were more willing to engage in Nabji Trail tourism activities than residents from the Khengpa communities. The Khengpa are located closer to the main road and have alternative income generating activities and higher food security. Developing fair and consistent pricing for tourism activities, maintaining stable leadership in “community tourism management committees” and following transparent and democratic processes to allocate “community development funds” were challenges found in all Monpa and Khengpa villages; as a result, ecotourism providers were questioning and even resisting paying 10% of their tourist earnings to community development fund accounts. This paper discusses the factors within and across villages, as well as with national tourist operators, which complicate widespread participation and stable governance, and recommends greater attention be paid to monitoring and backstopping from supra-community collaborators involved in the project.


Livestock predation by large carnivores prompted the Bhutanese government to initiate a scheme (the ‘Tiger Conservation Fund’) to compensate agro-pastoralists losing livestock to attack by tigers (Panthera tigris), leopards (P. pardus), snow leopards (P. uncia) and Himalayan black bears (Ursus thibetanus) over a three-year period (2003–2005). In this paper we report on the economic impact of predation to farmers during that period, and how losses were compensated. US$138,454 in compensation was paid to 1233 farmers for 1692 livestock kills. On average, compensation covered 35.5% of the market value of predated livestock. Compensated farmers lost on average 1.3 head of livestock in the year they received compensation, a loss equivalent to 39% of annual average household income. Losses were highly skewed; some farmers lost the equivalent of many years of income, and some remote northern regions of the country were heavily impacted. A majority of the compensation (63%) was paid for leopard attacks, so a strategy to reduce livestock losses throughout Bhutan should focus on leopards as the principal livestock predator. Compensation schemes are an important mechanism for large carnivore conservation in the Himalayas, and we advocate for a scheme in Bhutan that is long-lasting and sustainable.


Knowledge about social restrictions in traditional forest management systems and how they were organised within the social setup of the day are limited. With the gradual integration of new scientific forest management policies, traditional forest management systems are either ignored or over-ruled. The objective of the study was to document three main social restriction forms (Reedum=closing of mountains, Sokdum=restriction of killing animals, and Tsadum=restriction of grazing in pastureland) that may have contributed to the conservation of biodiversity in Bhutan prior to 1969. The study was based on interviews of 56 community elders and local leaders who were above 60 years of age in three districts (Bumthang, Lhuntse and Tashi Yangtse).

The study revealed that the three restriction systems were not directly enforced for the sustainable management of forests or for the conservation of biodiversity. Instead, their enforcement was primarily driven by a need to pacify local deities and thereby avoid natural disasters such as floods and storms, thus ensuring good agricultural harvests. Sokdum was also a tool to avoid killing of living creatures during the auspicious month of the year. Interestingly, however, the Reedum period corresponds to the growing season (spring to autumn), and Sokdum promotes wildlife conservation through prevention of man- made forest fires during the highly susceptible forest fire season (February–March). Similarly, Tsadum helpsensure regrowth of the grasslands as it corresponds to the regeneration period for grazing lands. We document that restriction systems historically practiced have promoted regeneration and conservation of biodiversity in Bhutan.

P-ISSN 2410-3861
O-ISSN 2410-7913
Vol-I, Issue-I (2014) [PDF]
S. NoTitle and Authors Name
1A tribute to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyelpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck in commemoration of his 60TH birth anniversary
Tandin Wangdi
2The Asian elephant in Bhutan
Dasho Paljor J. Dorji
3Addendum Update: The Asian elephant in Bhutan
Sonam Wangdi
4 The mast seeding plants of Bhutan
Boyd R. Wright, Bap Tandin Dorji and Prabhat Kumar Mukhia
Abstract         [PDF]
5 The status of herpetofauna of Bhutan
Jigme Tshelthrim Wangyal
Abstract         [PDF]
6 Equity in community forestry management: A case of Lhuntse and Mongar Dzongkhags, eastern Bhutan
Sonam Wangchuk
Abstract         [PDF]
7 Patterns of first winter snowfall in Thimphu, Bhutan
Chhimi Dorji and Ugyen Chophel
Abstract         [PDF]
8 Environmental attitudes of incoming and outgoing students of an environmental studies undergraduate degree course: case study at Royal Thimphu College, Bhutan
Wangchuck and Samir S. Patel
Abstract         [PDF]
9 Participation and governance challenges along the Nabji community-based ecotourism trail in Bhutan
Ugyen Namgyel, Jill M. Belsky and Stephen F. Siebert
Abstract         [PDF]
10 The economic cost of wild mammalian carnivores to farmers in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan
Tiger Sangay and Karl Vernes
Abstract         [PDF]
11 Social restriction in traditional forest management systems, and its implications for biodiversity conservation in Bhutan
Sonam Wangdi, Nawang Norbu, Sangay Wangchuk and Kinga Thinley
Abstract         [PDF]

Dasho Karma Ura (Chief Editor) Karma Ura studied in St. Stephen’s Delhi; Magdalen College, Oxford; and Edinburgh University. He worked for the Ministry of Planning of Bhutan for 12 years before becoming the Director of the Centre for Bhutan Studies (CBS) from its founding in 1999 until 2008 when he became its President. The CBS has been at the forefront of promoting His Majesty the fourth King, Jigme
Singye Wangchuck’s development philosophy of Gross National Happiness and conducting multidisciplinary research about Bhutan. He was a member of the Drafting Committee of Bhutan's first Constitution, enacted in July 2008. He was awarded the red scarf and the ancient title of distinction, Dasho, by His Majesty the Fourth King in December 2006, for his dedicated service to the country. In 2010, he was bestowed the honour of Druk Khorlo (Wheel of Dragon Kingdom) by His Majesty the King for his contributions to literature and fine arts. He is also a painter. He has written several books such as Faith and Festival of Nimalung; Deities and Archers; The Hero with a Thousand Eyes; Ballad of Pemi Tshewang Tashi; and Leadership of the Wise: Kings of Bhutan. He has contributed articles to numerous books and has served in many editorial boards. He has participated in many international conferences as keynote speakers.

Dechen Dorji (Managing Editor) Dechen Dorji is Country Representative for WWF-Bhutan. Since 1995 he has served the country in various capacities, among which his service as Professional Changarp, Assistant to his Majesty, was a most significant moment role for him. Dechen Dorji was a founding Director of the Royal Academy Project and Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (Department of Forests and Park Services).
He also worked as a Senior Research Fellow with His Majesty’s Secretariat and as a consultant for World Bank, Washington DC. Mr. Dorji earned his Master’s Degree in Environmental Management from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and his Bachelor’s Degree from University of Wales, UK.

Dr. Ellen Cheng is a Research Scientist with the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (Bumthang) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Services. In her past positions with government agencies and universities in the USA and Mongolia, she has managed conservation research projects on topics including livestock-wildlife competition, developing practical tools for monitoring wildlife populations, and assessing biodiversity of
human-dominated landscapes. She has extensive teaching experience on topics of wildlife management, survey design, and data analysis. She also served as Director of Development for four years with the Natural Heritage Institute, an international conservation NGO based in California, USA. Dr. Cheng received her B.Sc. in Biology from Cornell University, M.Sc. in Ecology from Utah State University, and Ph.D. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana, USA

Dr. L. Scott Mills is a Professor in the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program at North Carolina State University (NCSU), leading research and teaching in the area of Global Environmental Change and Human Well-Being. He moved to NCSU in July 2013, after 18 years as a Professor of wildlife biology at University of Montana. As an applied wildlife
population biologist, Dr. Mills’ research integrates field studies, DNA and genetic studies, and computer models to understand how wild animal populations -- and their associated ecosystems -- respond to human-caused global changes.

During his career Dr. Mills has received multiple teaching and research awards, was a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, has testified to the U.S. Congress on the use of DNA in wildlife studies, advised the Western Governor’s Association on climate change effects on wildlife, and served as a co-author on the North America section of the Nobel Prize winning 2007 report of the International Panel on Climate Change. His work has been covered by Discovery, Science News, National Geographic, Time Magazine, National Public Radio, New York Times, Smithsonian, and other media outlets.

Dr. Mark Hebblewhite is an Associate Professor of Ungulate Habitat Ecology in the Department of Ecosystems and Conservation Sciences at the University of Montana, USA. He received his PhD in Environmental Biology and Ecology from the University of Alberta, Canada, in 2006. He pursued his Master’s in Wildlife biology from the University of Montana and
his BSc (Hons) in Pure and Applied Ecology from the University of Guelph in 1995.

Dr. Hebblewhite’s research interests broadly lie in understanding how ungulates and other wildlife balance the costs of predation with the benefits of foraging, and how human activities influence this balance, with ensuing conservation and management consequences to wildlife population dynamics.

Phuntsho Namgyal is Chief Engineer with the Department of Hydromet Services under the Ministry of Economic Affairs. He also serves as project focal point for World Bank and UNDP projects aimed at modernizing hydromet services in Bhutan and enhancing national capacity for addressing climate change-related risks. During his past 10 years of civil service, Phuntsho Namgyal has formulated macro policies and plans for
the Energy Sector; planned and designed Bhutan’s hydro-meteorological monitoring network; and planned and designed the country’s Flood/GLOF Early Warning System. Hehas also played an active role in drafting Water Regulation and the National Hydromet Services Policy, and implementing studies related to flood hazard zonation.
Phuntsho Namgyal received his Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from Thammasat University in Bangkok and his Post Graduate Degree in Construction Engineering and Infrastructure Management from the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand.

Dr. Jill M. Belsky is Professor of Rural and Environmental Social Science at the University of Montana. She earned her Ph.D in 1991 from Cornell University in Development Sociology with emphases in Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Southeast Asian Studies. Informed theoretically by political ecology and agrarian political economy, over the last two plus decades she has conducted research and served as a
professional consultant on issues of livelihoods, participatory conservation and development, and interdisciplinary education as they relate to forest and other natural resources management issues in the Philippines, Indonesia, Belize, Bhutan and western Montana. She has published widely and served from 2012-2015 as editor-in-chief of the journal, Society & Natural Resources. She teaches courses in environment and development, community forestry and conservation, and political ecology.

Dr. Shivaraj Bhattarai is Dean of Academic Affairs for the premier Royal Thimphu College (RTC) of Bhutan, and is a member representative of the college to the Academic Board of the Royal University of Bhutan. A native of Dorokha in Southern Bhutan, Dr. Bhattarai has a M.Sc. in Bio-Science and a Ph.D. in Limnology (Freshwater Ecology).
Before joining RTC in 2008, Dr. Bhattarai was the Dean of Academic Affairs and a faculty member with Sherubtse College (the lone premier university college in Bhutan) for more than 17 years. He taught Bio-Science, including courses in Applied Entomology, Developmental Biology, Evolution, Cell Biology, and Aquatic Ecology. During his teaching tenure he also conducted dozens of individual and group projects involving extensive field visits and laboratory-based research. He has over a dozen research publications, including articles in peer reviewed international journals, to his credit. Dr. Bhattarai was a recipient of the Jigme Wanghuck Gold Medal for Excellence in Character, Academics and Activities, from Sherubtse College. He was also awarded a special Certificate of Appreciation in ‘recognition of exceptional commitments and outstanding services in the development’ of Bhutan’s first private college, Royal Thimphu College. Above all, he recently received the prestigious Lifetime Service Award (Gold) for Dedicated Service from His Majesty the King. Dr. Bhattarai has travelled to many countries to receive short-term trainings and to attend workshops and conferences. He has wide experience in curriculum development and higher education planning, management, and administration. His interests include socializing, travelling, reading, and playing games like badminton and lawn tennis.

Dr. Stephen Siebert is a Professor in the College of Forestry and Conservation at the University of Montana, USA, where he has worked since 1990. His research focuses on the ecology of historic livelihoods/land uses and implications for biodiversity conservation and protected area management, and on the ecology, use and management of non-timber forest products (particularly rattan). He established and directs the
International Conservation and Development M.S. degree option at the University of Montana. Dr. Siebert completed graduate studies at Cornell University and has lived and conducted long-term field research in Indonesia, the Philippines and Belize. Since 2006, he has collaborated with faculty and students from UWICE on institutional development and studies of fuel wood use and management, community forestry, ecotourism and conservation.

Dr. D.B. Gurung , joined the Royal Civil Service in 1989 and was trained as a professional Forester in AIGNFA (IFC), Dehra Dun, India, in between 1989 – 1991. After completing the AIGNFA course, Dr.Gurung was appointed as an Asst. Director of Forest and subsequently as a Lecturer in the College of Natural Resources (CNR) and has been teaching in CNR since 1992. He has Master’s Degree in Resource Management from
the University of Edinburgh, UK, and PhD on the “Benefits of Ecotourism to Rural Communities in the Protected Areas of Bhutan’ from ETH, Switzerland. As an Asst. Professor, Dr.Gurung continues to teach Statistics, Forest Botany and forestry related topics besides his managerial responsibilities as the Dean of Academic Affairs in the college. He engages himself actively in research and has published a number of articles in the international journals. He is the author of ‘An Illustrated Guide to Orchids of Bhutan.’ While he is pursuing his research in orchids of Bhutan, he is also working on the taxonomy of fishes, reptiles, and amphibians in the country. He has won a number of international projects and is currently managing the Danish-Bhutanese research project and NORHED project in the college.

Mr. Tshering Tempa, Chair of the Department of Conservation Biology at the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE), was a key player in inception of the Bhutan Ecological Society in 2010. In addition to his responsibilities at UWICE and as Member Secretary of BES, Mr. Tshering Tempa is currently pursuing his Ph.D.
degree in Wildlife Biology with the University of Montana, USA.

The purpose of the peer review process is to ensure that manuscripts published in Proceedings of BES support the mission of the journal and meet certain standards of quality and scientific rigor. Every submission will undergo a standard review process as outlined below. Special (themed) sections in a journal issue may follow different review procedures.

First-cut evaluation

The Secretariat first evaluates submitted abstracts to ensure the manuscript topics are within the scope and aims of the journal. If a manuscript topic is appropriate for the journal, the author will be invited to submit a full manuscript that strictly adheres to Authors’ Guidelines. Manuscripts that do not adhere to Authors’ Guidelines WILL be returned without review; manuscripts that follow Authors’ Guidelines will be passed on to at least two experts (one Bhutanese, one international) for review.

Type of peer review

This journal employs double blind reviewing, where both the reviewer and author remain anonymous throughout the process. To ensure author anonymity, the Secretariat removes all author names and affiliations from manuscripts before the manuscripts are sent for peer review. Reviewers names are likewise omitted from review forms, before reviews are submitted to authors.

Selection of reviewers

Reviewers are matched to a manuscript according to their expertise. Our database is constantly being updated. When submitting a manuscript, authors may request that a particular person NOT be asked to review the manuscript, but a clear reason should be provided.

First round of reviews

Reviewers are asked to evaluate whether the manuscript:

  • Is original (not previously published)
  • Methods are sound and appropriate to the question
  • (When present) data analyses are correct and appropriate
  • Results are clearly presented and support the conclusions
  • All statements and anecdotes are supported by credible evidence
  • Correctly references previous relevant work
Reviewers are not expected to correct language or format of manuscripts—this is the responsibility of authors. Reviewers are given one month to complete a manuscript review.

Initial decision

If reviewer recommendations conflict, the Chief/Managing Editor may either request a third independent review or make the initial decision based on the existing reviews. The initial decision to accept (with or without revisions) or reject the manuscript will be sent to the authors along with any recommendations made by the Editorial Board and reviewers.

Author revisions

For manuscripts accepted (with or without revisions), authors are given three weeks to revise and return the manuscript with a point-by-point response to the recommendations made by the Editorial Board and reviewers.

Second round of reviews and final decision

For revised manuscripts, the same (as initial) reviewers will be given one month determine if the authors’ revisions sufficiently address concerns from the first round of reviews. The final decision to accept or reject the manuscript will be sent to the authors.

How long does the review process take?

The review process, from time of manuscript submission to final decision, will take a minimum of 4 months. If authors or reviewers request additional time, or if more than 2 rounds of review are required for a manuscript, the process may take up to 6 months.

Editorial Board note, 24 April 2014: Due to suggestions that we provide further details and a sample format for interested authors, we have updated the Authors’ Guidelines attached here. The updated version does not change previous guidelines—it only provides additional clarification and examples.

Download Authors' Guidelines here.