Bhutan will launch the big­gest project on en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion by end of this year

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - Sonam Pen­jor

By end of this year, Bhutan will be launch­ing the Bhutan’s big­gest project for en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion worth ore than US$ 80M. Where the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) will be the ma­jor part­ner for the con­ser­va­tion of our pris­tine en­vi­ron­ment and will help to raise fund of US$ 40M be­fore the end of 2015 but half of the fund will be con­trib­uted by the gov­ern­ment, and this fund will stretch till 15 years for ex­pen­di­ture.

Dur­ing the press con- fer­ence af­ter re­turn­ing from ten days of­fi­cial visit to New York, Ly­onch­hen Tsh­er­ing Tob­gay said that, although by con­sti­tu­tion we are re­quired to have at least 60 per­cent of our coun­try is cov­ered by for­est but to­day we have 72 per­cent of our coun­try is cov­ered by pris­tine for­est.

Most of it is pris­tine for­est and other places in the world that have for­est but for­est are not nat­u­rally pris­tine.

Ly­onch­hen said that, we have ten pro­tected ar­eas, for in­stance; parks, nat­u­ral parks and wildlife sanc­tu­ary which con- trib­uted about 51 per­cent of our to­tal land ar­eas which oc­cu­pies more than half of our coun­try but all our pro­tected ar­eas are in­ter­con­nected by bi­o­log­i­cal cor­ri­dor.

“Our coun­try is the only one in the world, that has more than half the coun­try as marked as pro­tected ar­eas by law and this parks are in­ter­con­nected. And this is the only coun­try where species both plant and an­i­mal can roam from one park to an­other park through undis­turbed bi­o­log­i­cal cor­ri­dor” Ly­onch­hen said.

Since, Bhutan has com­mit­ted to be car­bon sink and re­main eco­nom­i­cally and also en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able, dur­ing the visit to New York, Ly­onch­hen had high­lighted that the pi­o­neer­ing and in­stru­men­tal role that His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo played in the suc­cess of Bhutan’s en­vi­ron­men­tal poli­cies. Bhutan’s en­vi­ron­ment poli­cies dates back to the 1970s, when His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo made con­ser­va­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment a key pil­lar of Bhutan’s Gross Na­tional Hap­pi­ness devel­op­ment phi­los­o­phy.

While, Bhutan for Life (BFL) is a ma­jor ini­tia­tive by the Royal Gov­ern­ment of Bhutan and WWF to en­sure sus­tain­able fi­nanc­ing for the con­ser­va­tion of Bhutan’s pro­tected ar­eas and bi­o­log­i­cal cor­ri­dors. This in­no­va­tive fi­nanc­ing mech­a­nism would en­able the con­ser­va­tion of 6 mil­lion acres of forests and other nat­u­ral habi­tats that com­pose 51.44 per­cent of Bhutan’s to­tal land­mass. It seeks to in­te­grate con­ser­va­tion with sus­tain­able eco­nomic liveli­hood of the com­mu­ni­ties living in the pro­tected ar­eas and bi­o­log­i­cal cor­ri­dors.

This strong en­vi­ron­men­tal le­gacy con­tin­ues to guide Bhutan’s devel­op­ment and is em­bed­ded in the Con­sti­tu­tion, which calls for main­tain­ing at least 60 per cent of the coun­try’s land un­der for­est cover and makes ev­ery cit­i­zen a trustee of the en­vi­ron­ment. Ly­onch­hen pointed out that Bhutan cur­rently ex­ceeds the con­sti­tu­tional re­quire­ment by 10 per cent and re­mains home to the high­est per­cent­age more than 51 per cent of pro­tected land in Asia.

He un­der­scored that Bhutan views its con­sti­tu­tional obli­ga­tion to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment “as a priv­i­lege and not some­thing ex­tra we have to do” and that the coun­try “was priv­i­leged to be a cus­to­dian of the world’s nat­u­ral her­itage.”

In his var­i­ous in­ter­ac­tions, Ly­onch­hen talked about Bhutan’s demo­cratic process and the var­i­ous so­cio-eco­nomic chal­lenges that it was con­fronted with as a de­vel­op­ing coun­try un­der­go­ing rapid change.

Ly­onch­hen also ex­plained the process of Bhutan’s demo­cratic tran­si­tion that took place over three decades of devel­op­ment un­der the guid­ance of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and the even­tual in­tro­duc­tion of democ­racy un­der the guid­ance of His Majesty the King in 2008 against the will of the peo­ple.

Ly­onch­hen em­pha­sized that through the suc­ces­sive ef­forts of the Mon­archs, Bhutan to­day was a full-fledged democ­racy, with an adopted con­sti­tu­tion and the nec­es­sary in­sti­tu­tions in place. Ly­onch­hen high­lighted that His Majesty the King con­tin­ues to serves as an in­spi­ra­tion and con­science for the Royal Gov­ern­ment to work in the best in­ter­est of the coun­try and peo­ple.

On the en­vi­ron­ment and devel­op­ment, Ly­onch­hen stressed that, “With part­ners like WWF, we have worked dili­gently to pro­tect our parks. But we see changes in our coun­try - com­pet­ing de­mands - so some­thing has to give. We do not want it to be our sys­tem of pro­tected ar­eas.” In this con­text, Ly­onch­hen un­der­scored that the next chap­ter of Bhutan’s sus­tain­able devel­op­ment re­quired care­ful and in­no­va­tive ap­proaches to up­hold­ing the coun­try’s com­mit­ment to the en­vi­ron­ment while ad­dress­ing its press­ing de­vel­op­men­tal needs. Bhutan for Life was a ma­jor step in that di­rec­tion.

Mean­while, dur­ing his visit, Ms. Nisha De­sai Biswal, As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for South and Cen­tral Asian Af­fairs called on Ly­onch­hen. He also met with Dr. Jim Yong Kim, Pres­i­dent of World Bank and Mr.Ban Ki-Moon, Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of United Na­tions.

While, Ly­onch­hen also vis­ited the head­quar­ters of Google, Face­book, and Tesla where he met with se­nior ex­ec­u­tives to ex­plore how they could sup­port Bhutan’s broader so­cio-eco­nomic devel­op­ment ef­forts. He also vis­ited start-up com­pa­nies man­u­fac­tur­ing mi­cro and mini hy­dropower tur­bines and un­manned aerial ve­hi­cles to see how ideas are trans­lated into prod­ucts in Sil­i­con Val­ley.

Ly­onch­hen Tsh­er­ing Tob­gay with Dr. Jim Yong Kim, Pres­i­dent of the World Bank at the World Bank HQ in Wash­ing­ton D.C.

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