Despite being one of the smallest countries on the planet, the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has made one of the biggest commitments to conservation. And the Bhutan for Life initiative, a partnership between the Royal Government of Bhutan and WWF supported by Carmen and the Bhutan Foundation, has just received funding of $43m to safeguard 2 million hectares of land, which will not only benefit Bhutan, but its neighbours and the wider world too.
Bhutan already has the highest area of protected land in Asia, more than 51%, which is home to 900 species of animals and birds and 6,300 species of plants. But this new funding under the Bhutan for Life initiative will enable the country to sustain its commitment to conservation of this land for life. Proper management of these areas will ensure that the country’s forests and rivers will be protected against threats such as poaching and illegal logging, and also play a part in the battle against climate change - Bhutan’s forests absorb more than six million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, which is four times the amount the country emits.
Bhutan for Life is a strategic and long-term initiative designed to ensure that the country remains economically and environmentally sustainable. It draws on the success story of Bhutan’s own conservation efforts, guided by the vision of His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo and continued today with the support of His Majesty The King. Efforts that not only demonstrate the country’s commitment to fulfilling its international obligations, but provide a source of encouragement and inspiration to the world.
The $43m funding, announced by Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen to coincide with the birthday anniversary of His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo, represents a financial commitment by a group of donors who are supporting the initiative. Monies will be held until the total goal has been reached and then distributed by a transition fund, overseen by an independent board, which will make annual payments on a sliding scale over a 14-year period. Over the same term Bhutan’s government will increase its funding, after which the country will be responsible for fully financing all protected areas from fund raising initiatives such as a green tax levied on the import of vehicles, payments for ecosystem services from hydropower and revenue from eco-tourism in the protected areas.
Over the last 45 years Bhutan has been quietly striving to play its part in world conservation. The country has consistently worked to balance national economic growth with cultural preservation, environmental sustainability and social development. The Bhutan for Life initiative will ensure that Bhutan’s efforts are sustainable, and we will all reap the rewards.
Learn more about Bhutan for Life here.