Bhutan should be the world’s role model but instead it may become its victim. It is not easy to live by Gross National Happiness when other countries swear by a more simplistic, brutal measure, the Gross Domestic Product. The relentless drive to produce and consume more has affected the world climate, and the rising temperatures are melting Bhutan glaciers, the source of its water and electricity.
As landslides, erosion and floods increase, the nomadic people of the remote Laya region in the Eastern Himalaya have to adapt to survive. These yak-herding pastoralists live among the glaciers and migrate to Punakha at lower altitudes every winter. They are especially knowledgeable about medicinal herbs while the cordycep fungi provides them with extra income.
Laya is located almost entirely within protected areas, primarily Jigme Dorji National Park. More than a half of Bhutan’s territory is a national park, a nature reserve or a wildlife sanctuary. They are connected with one another through a network of biological corridors, allowing animals to roam free throughout the country. Bhutan’s constitution guarantees 60% of the territory to stay permanently under forest. And that is just a part of what makes this mountain kingdom special in the eyes of anyone caring about our planet.