The main objectives of the rapid classification of Buli watershed are: 1. to rapidly assess the watershed and the wetlands within the watershed, so as to identify criticality areas; 2. to set up a baseline for water discharge from various streams; and 3. to train the field staff in discharge measurements.

For the purpose of this project, the same guideline (Guideline for Classification of Watersheds, 2010) was used to rapidly assess Buli watershed. Click here to find Criteria for classification of watersheds.

A birds eye view of Clustered Buli Village

A birds eye view of Clustered Buli Village

Buli watershed has three management areas with plans within its boundary. There is a Forest Management Unit (FMU) – Gonglathang Malaithang –  for commercial timber harvesting. There are two Community Forest Management Groups – Rinchen Nrobuling and Phendey Norbuling – for sustainable community timber and non-timber utilization.

As indicated in the table below, Buli watershed is in intact condition and all fall within pristine conditions. According to the classification guideline, there are no prescription required. Considering the scare financial and other resources involved in managing a watershed area, Buli watershed does not require a management plan and any other land management interventions. However, looking at the intact watershed conditions, the rich biodiversity in the area and the special cultural practices within the watershed, there is no harm in recording and documenting the extraordinary state of the watershed through the project.

Table 1 Waterhed classification in Buli Watershed

Sl No Stream ID Score (%) Watershed Class Description
1. Chenrizi dupchhu 70.48 Pristine spring water with medicinal benefits
2. Rumrangchhu 68.57 Pristine water for irrigation
3. Rongdegangchhu 68.57 Pristine Seasonal
4. Berpangchhu 70.47 Pristine Water for irrigation, source from many lakes upstream
5. Kharetangchhu 73.1 Pristine Very clean spring water
6. Mephangchhu 70.14 Pristine Confluence – a good permanent location for discharge measurements
7. Yongbarichhu 71.43 Pristine Confluence – a good permanent location for discharge measurements

The table below shows the quality of the water within Buli watershed. The parameters used for measuring the water quality was done using a PCS tester that measures five parameters in the field, without changing the probe. The parameters are : TDS, temperature, pH, conductivity and salinity.

Table 2. Water Quality of various streams in Buli Watershed

Sl No Stream ID TDS Temp pH Conductivity Salinity
1. Chenrizi dupchhu 42.2 16.3 8.5 59.2 31.2
2. Rumrangchhu 15.8 19.1 7.8 22.6 16.9
3. Rongdegangchhu 28.1 20.8 7.2 39.4 24.2
4. Berpangchhu 37 23.1 7.1 52 30.2
5. Kharetangchhu 54.9 17 6.8 77.2 39
6. Mephangchhu 29.9 21.5 7.9 41.5 25.6
7. Yongbarichhu 15.2 22.5 7.6 21.8 11.2
Monsoon fed pond near Buli lake. This pond is moderately marshy during winters and harbours many bird species

Monsoon fed pond near Buli lake. This pond is moderately marshy during winters and harbours many bird species

Way-forward

Though the watershed area is pristine and intact, there is still a need to study the area extensively. The biodiversity, especially in and around Buli tso is intact and has not been disturbed. The team observed that the cultural practices and folklores connected to the lake has indirectly, prevented the lake vicinity to remain intact with rich biodiversity. Thus, a thorough biodiversity study in Buli watershed and more specifically around Buli tso is recommended.

The marshes near the Buli town, though intact today, is more likely under threat from fragmentation and conversion to other land uses. The marshes harbor good amount of avifauna and creates a good scenic location for Buli village. Hydrologically, the excess irrigation water and other overflows during the monsoon is channeled through this wetland area, creating a natural buffer and filtration point. Thus, awareness and interventions on wetlands management can be a preliminary step in encouraging the community of Buli to continue protecting the wetlands in the vicinity.

An outlet from wetland at Buli proper. the outlet water is combination of irrigation water and accumulated water from the wetland.

An outlet from wetland at Buli proper. the outlet water is combination of irrigation water and accumulated water from the wetland.

Through National Soil Service Center (NSSC), under the Soil and Land Management Project, a metrology station was established in 2003. According to NSSC, the station was handed to the school when the project exited from Buli. After the school moved to a new location (very close to Buli tso) the station has not been managed anymore and there are no data recorded as of today. Though the project, with effective and efficient bilateral communication with the agencies involved, the met station can be upgraded to a hydro-met station and more sustainable management of the station can be established.

Assessment team (R- Mr. Boning and L-Mr. Narayan) measuring the width of a stream.

Assessment team (R- Mr. Boning and L-Mr. Narayan) measuring the width of a stream.

The team also observed the existence of a weak professional communication amongst the Renewable Natural Resources (RNR) staff in Buli. Thus, the team recommends involving all the sectors within Buli watershed to meet and communicate efficiently -to bring all the development partners together and to discuss the various plans and programmes within the watershed can create a good example of a proper management planning process. this can be done through a slow and continuous process of involving all concerned within Buli, to understand why RSPN is in Buli and what is the long term goals. This can also create a platform to solve the various environmental and related social issues within the area.

A comprehensive assessment of the watershed and biodiversity is planned from 28th September to 7th October 2014 which will be jointly undertaken by RSPN, WMD and Nangkor Gewog Administration.

 

A lush tract of paddies near Buli lake. Note the paddies edges being installed by solar powered electric fencing to guard from wild life (its a pilot project of Ministry of Agriculture and Forest)

A lush tract of paddies near Buli lake. Note the paddies edges being installed by solar powered electric fencing to guard from wild life (its a pilot project of Ministry of Agriculture and Forest)

Report prepared by: Mrs. Sonam Choden, Water and Wetlands Section, Watershed Management Division, Department of Forests and Park Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests.

Report edited for Website: Mr. Tshering Phuntsho, RSPN

NOTE: RSPN, with financial support from the GEF-Small Grants Program, UNDP, has currently taken up a project, “Wetlands Conservation Management ” in Buli, Nangkor Gewog in Zhemgang. The Water and Wetlands Program of the Watershed Management Division (WMD) of the Department of Forests and Park Services (DoFPS) has been requested by RSPN to assist them in technical cooperation for the particular project.

Assessment Date: August 14, 2015.

Assessment Team Members:

1. Mr. Narayan Ghalley (Project Officer, RSPN)

2. Mr. Tshering Phuntsho (RSPN)

3. Mr. Boning (Beat Officer, Buli)

4. Ms. Sonam Choden (WMD)

5. Mr. Kinley Wangchuk (Buli Tsokpa).


Criteria for classification of watersheds

The criteria used to classify watersheds is done using a simple scoring system to categorize watersheds into three different watershed classes – critical, normal and pristine.

The criteria for classification of watersheds are broadly grouped into four broad categories – biophysical features, climatic conditions, demographic features and socio-economic factors. Under the four broad categories, there are twenty two criteria used for the classification process. Each criterion will be given a score out of 100. Scores for all the applicable criteria are added and the mean score is used to determine the class for the particular watersheds. Lower score denotes critical watersheds. Watersheds with scores between 33-66% is classified as “normal watersheds” requiring periodic monitoring. Watersheds with scores equivalent or higher than 67% is classified as “pristine watersheds” with no planning or action required.

A critical watershed is defined as a biotically degraded and naturally vulnerable area designated as such by stakeholders based on a number of agreed criteria. Identification of critical watersheds is important to regulate the use of the natural resources from that particular watershed, in order to restore or rehabilitate the area. Once a critical watershed has been identified, all detailed data required for description of the watershed shall be collected during the preparation of the critical watershed management plan.

The reasons for the designating the critical watersheds are for the following:

1. to ensure a sustained supply of good quality drinking water to all population, both upstream and downstream;

2. to maintain a sustained supply of good quality and quantity of water for community irrigation networks;

3. to ensure sustained production of food, fodder, fuel wood, and timber to the local communities;

4. to preserve the wildlife habitat, maintain biological diversity; and,

5. to protect downstream settlement from flood and erosion damages.