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