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Road Expansion and Its Influence on Trail Sustainability in Bhutan
Faculty of Life and Environment, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba 305–8572, Japan
Received: 7 October 2011; in revised form: 24 November 2011 / Accepted: 28 November 2011 / Published: 9 December 2011
Abstract: Bhutan was an inhabited wilderness until 1961, when road construction started after the closure of the Tibetan border. Since then, the road network has expanded from the Indian boarder, often tracing traditional trails. This has accelerated commerce as well as movement of people from India, benefitting both the Bhutanese and foreign tourists. At the same time, dependence on imported automobiles and fossil fuel has risen, and roadless areas have begun to shrink. This brought an inevitable loss of traditional environmental knowledge, such as the care of mules for packing, and reduction in physical and mental health among the Bhutanese. People who lost jobs as horsemen moved into towns to find jobs. Road extension is also a double-edged sword for visitors. It has resulted in shrinking trekking areas and loss of traditional culture, both of which have been sacrificed for easy access. Protected areas often function as fortifications against mechanical civilization. However, protected-area status or its zoning does not guarantee that an area will remain roadless where there is considerable resident population. An analysis in Jigme Dorji National Park showed the gradual retreat of trailheads and increasing dependence on automobiles among residents and trekkers. B. MacKaye, a regional planner in the Eastern United States, proposed using trails as a tool to control such mechanical civilization. His philosophy of regional planning suggests two measures; one is consolidated trailheads as dams, and the other is confinement of roads by levees, consisting of new trails and wilderness belts. According to case studies, the author proposed six options for coexistence of trails with roads.
Keywords: Bhutan; inhabited wilderness; roadless area; traditional environmental knowledge; trailhead; trekking
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Cite This Article
MDPI and ACS Style
Ito, T. Road Expansion and Its Influence on Trail Sustainability in Bhutan. Forests 2011, 2, 1031-1048.
Ito T. Road Expansion and Its Influence on Trail Sustainability in Bhutan. Forests. 2011; 2(4):1031-1048.
Ito, Taiichi. 2011. "Road Expansion and Its Influence on Trail Sustainability in Bhutan." Forests 2, no. 4: 1031-1048.