Ans. Bhutan which is situated betweenthe two superpower countries; India & China, experienced various waves ofimmigrants making ethno-history slightly complex. In the north, we haveBrokpas, laps and Bjops (the people of mountain passes) who are initially fromTibet.
In the south, we have Nepalese settlers of Indo-Aryan civilization. Thepeople residing in the east are said to have migrated from Arunachal Pradesh(India) and northernMyanmar. But prior to thoseimmigrants, there were tribes, such as Monpa. They were also called as forestMonpa as they were found living in the Black Mountain Forest of Central Bhutan.According to the First Progress Report of Bhutanese gene-diversity projectwhich attempts to trace the ancestry of the Bhutanese, the Black MountainMonpas in the central Bhutan and the Lokpus or Doyas of southern Bhutan are twogenetically distinct and aboriginal populations in Bhutan (Chand, 2009). Atpresent, those Monpas and lokpus have become minority group living in a remotepart of our country. I feel that being the first inhabitants of the region,they need to be given some privileges such as native title rights like nativetitle in Australia.
Some of the aboriginal groups inthe regions used the land for cultivation of paddies but due to heavy rainfalland difficult mountainous terrains, agriculture was practiced at thesubsistence level. The land area available for permanent cultivation was not enoughto sustain the livelihood. Their option was to depend on forest and practisewild farming such as shifting cultivation, known in Bhutan as Tsheri farming.
Those practices were later continued by other inhabitants too. Later in 1969,Royal Government of Bhutan enacted the Bhutan Forest Act with commitment tophase out shifting cultivation practices, which was seen as the main cause fordeforestation and hastening topsoil loss (Ura and Norbu, 1992). But accordingto my understanding, compared to other regions, the environmental degradationin Bhutan is not as alarming. This is because of the low population density andless intensive land use. Moreover, the land use practices of aboriginal peopleare less damaging where they have followed traditional norms for fertilityregeneration.
If people practices shifting cultivation disastrously, governmentcan come up with appropriate land use policies and equitable land tenuresystem, otherwise poorer sections of the farming community may be pushed aside. Therefore, I feel that some of thetraditional land utilisation practices such as shifting cultivation need to bereconsidered by the policy makers of our my country.