Forestry can be the next big growth driver for Bhutan

India this year, for the first time exported more electricity than it imported and will be a power surplus nation by 2018. It has added 8.6 GW of solar capacity in the past two years, and its target is to generate 100 GW of solar power by 2022. Since 2010 the solar power tariff has fallen by 80% from Rs. 12.76/unit to Rs. 2.44/unit. Installing solar panels is now quick and simple and takes one to two days for rooftops units to a few months or years for solar parks. Hydropower development on the other hand involves a high capital cost and a long gestation period.

The changed energy situation in India calls into question the future of hydropower development in Bhutan. What can now replace hydropower? As people hunt for the next big economic idea, forest development will be the last thing on anybody’s mind because Bhutanese people from students to policy-makers consider forest protection a sacrosanct duty. Whilst laudable, the motive is driven by forestry beliefs which are over-simplified or no longer true and accurate. Preserving these myths cause underdevelopment in forestry and distract us from making the political and economic shifts needed for forestry to become a growth driver for the country. If fresh ideas are to emerge, it is important to dispel the following three forest myths: