Bhutan hosts ‘World Dendro Conference’ for the first time

Dendrochronology is a science that uses the growth of tree rings as a detailed record of climate change in a region. Over 150 participants from 35 countries are attending the five-day conference.

Bhutan has been chosen for the conference because of its best preserved forest. According to experts, Bhutan currently faces two immediate threats from climate change. The first one is the threat of glacial lake outburst floods and other flooding events. And the second is the changing and uncertain stream flow creating challenges for the generation of hydropower.

So the conference provides a platform for the researchers to not only share their findings but offer ways for Bhutan to better manage its forest in sustainable manner.   “Tree rings can tell us how climate is changing from 500 years ago and now and how it is going to change in the future maybe better or worse. But maybe it is the worse that is the problem. Tree rings can tell at what direction the climate is changing and how it might affect Bhutan,” highlighted Dr. Edward R. Cook, Professor of Colombia University.

Dendrochronology or the study of tree rings is applied wherever trees are found with distinct annual rings- which will help to provide crucial information on past climatic conditions and extreme events.

“If a situation or environment is very favorable for the trees to grow, the rings would be actually much wider. So that’s how we could exactly determine that what was the weather pattern and how was the temperature 100 or 200 years ago,” said Sangay Wangchuk, Researcher at Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environmental Research.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forests also released the first book on historically significant trees of Bhutan. The book documents the important tree species present in Bhutan.

Finding solutions from tree rings on the impacts of climate change in mountain environments, the 10th World Dendro Conference began in Thimphu yesterday. Bhutan is the first developing country to host the conference. 

Source: Kuensel Online Jun 11, 2018

Note: Dr. Hans Linderholm,  Department of Earth Sciences, Gothenburg University, is one of the four principal organizers.

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