ECOLOGICAL INTEGRITY

With a wide range of ecosystems—from alpine zones of the Himalayas to subtropical floodplains at the Indian border—Bhutan is one of the world’s major biodiversity hotspots. The nation has made a strong commitment toward protecting its environment. Mountain Hazelnuts furthers this commitment through developing a business that restores tree cover, soil quality, and water quality, while generating positive effects on climate.

THE Issues

Deforestation in the steep and rugged Himalayas sets off a chain of ecological damage. Degraded areas erode five to fifty times faster than forested areas. Hillsides that have lost valuable topsoil become less productive, while river health suffers from high sediment loads. Loss of forest cover and soil disrupts ecosystems and adds to global climate change.

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A ROUTE TOWARD SOLUTIONS

Hazelnut farming actively reverses this process. Cultivating hazelnut orchards improves soil fertility: roots stabilize topsoil, reduce erosion on hillsides, and build soil carbon.

Minimizing erosion improves water quality, helping to restore rivers and streams.

Pruned branches from orchards will provide a valuable source of firewood, reducing pressures on natural forests. A one-acre orchard should provide about one ton of firewood annually.

Planting 10 million trees brings significant climate benefits. This project will sequester approximately 1.5 million metric tons of CO2, or three times the annual CO2 production of the entire nation of Bhutan.